NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
Peer reviewed Peer reviewed
Direct linkDirect link
ERIC Number: EJ884678
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2007
Pages: 11
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 0
ISSN: ISSN-1533-015X
"Soldiers of the Soil": The Work of the United States School Garden Army during World War I
Hayden-Smith, Rose
Applied Environmental Education and Communication, v6 n1 p19-29 2007
"Every boy and every girl...should be a producer. The growing of plants...should therefore become an integral part of the school program." With these words, the federal Bureau of Education launched the United States School Garden Army (USSGA) during World War I, targeting urban and suburban youth. It represented one of the earliest federal efforts to nationalize a curriculum in America, and was a departure from federal policies that focused agricultural education efforts on rural youth. Concern about the security of America's food system linked agricultural and gardening efforts to national security, and the USSGA's funding came from the War Department. By war's end, more than two million youth served as "soldiers of the soil." The USSGA did not simply seek to increase food production. Proponents saw an opportunity to instill a traditional American "producer" ethic in an urban population increasingly influenced by consumerism, and increasingly removed from its food system. A specific kind of visual imagery and rhetoric arose out of the USSGA's efforts, framing the role of youth, their harvest, and the land itself in militarized terms, and this paper presentation is supported by slides showing WWI gardening posters and photographs. The USSGA exemplifies how Americans mediated competing urban and rural values during a period of national transformation, and has implications on the garden-based learning efforts of today. Positive values attributed to America's rural past were recast and articulated in an urban milieu of gardening. Gardening itself offered a new synthesis of urban and rural experience. The USSGA also tried to assuage American anxiety about the tide of rural migration to urban centers, promising that the "farmers of to-morrow may be recruited to-day from the towns and cities." (Contains 1 figure and 24 footnotes.)
Routledge. Available from: Taylor & Francis, Ltd. 325 Chestnut Street Suite 800, Philadelphia, PA 19106. Tel: 800-354-1420; Fax: 215-625-2940; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A