Andover’s history of agriculture extends beyond its farms. Many of its citizens have and still do tend gardens. It was only during the Second World War that those gardens became a major source of Andover’s food supply.
US citizens called personal vegetable gardens “liberty gardens” in World War I, and “victory gardens” in World War II. Both types of garden are also referred to as “war gardens”. April is the beginning of the growing season in New England. The Andover Townsman first encouraged its readers to plant war garden on April 13, 1917; exactly one week after the US entered WWI.
Andover was still a farming town during WWI, so the town’s residents focused more on improving the farm yields than on gardening. Articles like “More Seed Next Week” which was featured on the front page of the Andover Townsman on May 4, 1917, more often involved local farms rather than liberty gardens. As a farming town, local organizations were more likely to deal with problems like the high cost of seeds, than to organize the planting of vegetable gardens. Andover still had liberty gardens; they just weren’t part of daily life for most people.
War gardens were four times more numerous in the United States during WWII than they were during WWI. In 1918, liberty gardens peaked at 5 million gardens, whereas victory gardens peaked at 20 million gardens during 1943. 40 percent of the vegetables consumed by US residents during WWII were grown in victory gardens. Andover was similarly more involved in planting war gardens during WII.
During WWII, the Andover Townsman began encouraging war gardens on April 2, 1942; its first issue published during start of the first growing season of the war. The war gardens helped in multiple ways. The most obvious reason people planted them was to lessen civilian dependence on the public food supply, which increased the supply of vegetables available to the troops. People who planted war gardens donated some of the money they saved on food to the war efforts (usually in the form of buy bonds). War gardens were also big moral boosters. Planting them made people feel like they were helping with war, and that helped foster community spirit.
Andover certainly did bond as a community when planting victory gardens and they were a part of daily life. Several different Andover organizations held regular meetings during the growing seasons of WWII. The Parent Teacher Association attended dietary lectures delivered by dietary instructor, Hope Coolidge, at Abbot Academy. These lectures were held every Tuesday of April and May in 1942. They included suggestions on what to plant in victory gardens. The Memorial Hall Library held weekly meetings about gardening for children in April and May of 1943. Even as late as 1945, the top books suggested for reading by the Memorial Hall Library in April were gardening books. Many local businesses helped residents by selling gardening supplies such as fertilizer, mulch, basic tools, seeds, and seedlings. All of these activities were advertized in the many April and May issues of the Andover Townsman published during WWII.
The victory gardens in Andover marked the last time when the average town resident participated in major agriculture. The number of farms and farmers in Andover decreased all throughout the 20th century and has continued to decrease into the 21st century. Today there is only one farm still operating in Andover and only some people have vegetable gardens.
 Janet A Flammang, The Taste for Civilization: Food, Politics, and Civil Society, (Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2009), 288.