It was an accidental encounter with a recent obituary from the Iowa City Press Citizen that led me to discover “Victory Garden Queens.”
Having grown up in Paris, Texas where they crown a Crepe Myrtle Queen annually, I’m familiar enough with the old-fashioned notion of celebrating fecundity by placing a crown upon a young woman’s head.
A little more Web surfing turned up this passage from a 2008 SFGate.com article describing San Francisco’s WWII gardening efforts:
A San Francisco Garden Advisory Committee successfully lobbied the Board of Supervisors to reduce water rates for home gardeners and allow city dwellers to raise chickens and rabbits…. More than 120,000 square feet of land in Golden Gate Park was opened to gardeners, with 250 applicants receiving 20-by-20-foot plots, free water, seeds and access to tools. Beginning in 1943, annual citywide Victory Garden Fairs celebrated local achievements; 1945’s Victory Garden Queen was crowned with a wreath of parsley and radishes. [Read more]
While not advocating a widespread revival of Victory Garden royalty, I do think this is another interesting aspect of WWII-era gardens. And I do wonder if someone out there has a picture of one of these queens…