Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Women's Land Army

You've seen this poster here on the website - you know I love it! Turns out I'm not alone. A new account of the Women's Land Army, Fruits of Victory, written by Elaine Weiss, is now available. The Women's Land Army of WWI was formed of 20,000 women who took to the fields to keep America (and Britain, separately) supplied with food and farm products.

They wore uniforms, as the poster shows, lived in camps and broke ground for significant women's issues by insisting on working an eight hour day and receiving the same pay as men (in 1917?! Outrageous!). The "Farmerettes" lived in work camp barracks, entertaining themselves with camp songs (the Land Army Song was composed to the Battle Hymn of the Republic) and sharing stories and supplies. To the amazement of skeptics, the women not only maintained but exceeded the former output of the male farmers.

From the publicity for Fruits of Victory:
Imagine a spunkier, and more controversial, Rosie the Riveter--a generation older, and more outlandish for her time. She is the "farmerette" of the Woman's Land Army of America, doing a man's job, in military-style uniform, on the rural home front during WWI.

"During the war she was the toast of Broadway, the darling of the smart set, a star of the wartime cinema newsreel, and highlight of the Liberty Loan parade. Victor Herbert and P.G. Wodehouse wrote songs about her, Rockwell Kent drew sly pictures of her, Charles Dana Gibson created posters for her, Theodore Roosevelt championed her, the New York Times wrote editorials about her, and Flo Ziegfield put her in his follies. And then she disappeared. "

What a great story! I'm hooked!
Fruits of Victory: The Woman's Land Army of America in the Great War

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The sharing of ideas, experience and helpful information between one gardener and another has always been the very best of gardening traditions.