The above poster features a boy with a spade and straw hat climbing over a mound of dirt. In the lead are series of anthropomorphic vegetables, including a pumpkin carrying the American flag, and all appear to be yelling or screaming as they run down the hill. Reading "War Gardens Over the Top," and "The Seeds of Victory Insure the Fruits of Peace," the poster brings to mind the "boys" going "over the top" of the trenches in battle. This use of military language in propaganda posters was not uncommon, but this particular phrase likely did not have the full impact in the period that it does now. Today, we realize how horrific the charges of men "over the top" and across no-man's land between the trenches on the front really were. But in the period, it's likely people had only sanitized newspaper articles and perhaps a propagandized newsreel or two to give them a frame of reference for the term.
Both posters were published in 1919, technically AFTER the war was over. But as with most wars, the end of conflict does not mean that everything goes back to normal. There were numerous attempts by a number of organizations, including the federal government, to get Americans to continue to conform to wartime measures, including voluntary rationing and war gardens, which were termed victory gardens after the cessation of hostilities, well in to 1919 and even 1920. Here, the National War Garden Commission makes the argument that the "seeds of victory insure the fruits of peace," meaning that by continuing to plant vegetable gardens and free up domestic food supply for shipment overseas, Americans could help stabilize and rebuild Europe in the wake of the war.
Illustrated by Maginel Wright Enright, primarily known as a children's book illustrator, the posters have a luminous clarity, even if Enright was not particularly good at giving vegetables convincing facial expressions.
Lots of folks are starting year two of pandemic gardens - are you one of them? I am! Raised beds are going in this year and I already have my seeds and a plan.