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Preisach Brothers, Food vs. Flowers, LeRoy, NY, January 7, 1918

Food Offer
New York State Archives, NYSA_A4234-78_B2_F11_Greenhouse
Document Description
The Preisach brothers of Le Roy, New York offer to use their greenhouses to grow food instead of flowers, January 7, 1918.
To whom is the letter written and why would they be concerned with a greenhouse company?
What is Preisach Brothers offering to do?
What does the author mean when he says that they “shall help this vicinity in home gardening”?
Why do you think the author felt it necessary to mention the information contained in the P.S. section of the letter?
Historical Challenges
Research war gardens (victory gardens). What kinds of food did Americans grow in these gardens? What other methods did American use to conserve food for the war effort? Did any other countries have similar programs?
Interdisciplinary Connections
English Language Arts: Write a letter to a member of your state government offering to volunteer your services to help with a particular issue in your community.
Art: Design a poster encouraging people to start their own gardens to help with environmental conservation.
Kennedy, David. Over Here: The First World War and American Society. New York: Oxford University Press, 1980.
Pack, Charles Lathrop. The War Garden Victorious. J. B. Lippincott Company: Philadelphia, 1919.
Wynn, Neil A. From Progressivism to Prosperity: World War I and American Society. New York: Holmes and Meier, 1986.

Historical Context
World War I brought about a major food shortage in Europe. The war destroyed most of the crops and agricultural land in Europe and resulted in a large reduction in food supply. European countries turned to the United States, untouched by war, to ease the shortage in food. When the United States entered the war, much of the American labor force left their farms and factory jobs for the war front. Large portions of American farmland sat vacant without the necessary labor to work the land. 

The United States government created The National War Garden Commission to encourage citizens to grow their own food. When Americans grew their own food, they were not purchasing the food from the grocery store. Most mass-produced food that would have been sold in the stores was shipped overseas for consumption by Europeans and Allied soldiers. In 1918, the commission estimated over five million war gardens in operation across the United States. 

Essential Question
How do citizens contribute to a war effort?
Check for Understanding
Explain the purpose of this letter and the motivation of the author.