man and woman tending crops

Garden for Security

Ford’s contributions in World War II extended beyond military production on the assembly lines. In 1943, the Ford Motor Company Garden Educational Service was established to assist communities on the home front.

"Thousands of Americans are gardening for security,” stated a 1945 issue of the Ford Times. This phrase “Garden for Security” was the guiding philosophy of the Ford Motor Company Garden Educational Service. Established in late 1943, the program provided help to the thousands of Americans doing their part in the “food battle” during World War II. During the war, the United States government urged citizens to take part in growing their own fruits and vegetables, in what were known as “Victory Gardens,” to help contribute to a solution to the Armed Forces food problems. These Victory Gardens produced fruits and vegetables for home consumption allowing for larger quantities of commercially canned items to become available for military supply and reduced the rationing hardship on civilians.

Ford Motor Company’s Garden Educational Service provided educational assistance to every local Victory Garden program where possible. Through the Company’s plants and 6,000 Ford, Mercury, and Lincoln dealers, Ford representatives would contact newspapers, garden associations, and schools to provide literature on the planning, planting, and cultivation of gardens. In Charlotte, North Carolina, a Ford branch office and tractor dealership collaborated with the local country farm agent to produce two community plots. While branches in Chicago, Milwaukee, Richmond, Des Moines, and the Twin Cities all supported garden educational work within local schools. Ford employees that did not have access to home or community gardens had the opportunity to request a company-employee garden, located in two different areas of Dearborn. These garden plots would have gardeners on site daily to administrate, provide advice, and instruct employees who have gardens on site.

The efforts of the Ford Educational Garden Service ensured that civilians would have access to produce healthier, more productive gardens. Current gardeners, as well as thousands who had never had a garden before, had access to a service that would be able to make their food source more secure. The Educational Garden Service gave tips on what to grow, what insects to look out for and how to control them, as well as tips for canning your crops. As a 1944 Service pamphlet stated, “Can all you can, store all you can. In this, in addition to a summer’s supply of vegetables, lies security.” These gardens were opportunity for both supplying nutrition and boosting morale during the hardships of war.

The contributions of Ford Motor Company during World War II extended beyond those on the assembly line. While Willow Run was producing almost a plane an hour in 1944, the Ford Educational Garden Service was boosting Victory Gardens all over the country, helping civilians produce 40 percent of the vegetables grown that year in the United States.