Rainbow Beach Victory Garden thrives on South Side

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Victory gardens were the last line of defense between starvation and food on the table before World War II. (WLS)

Victory gardens were the last line of defense between starvation and food on the table before World War II. One's still going strong on the city's South Shore.

Walking through the 160 garden plots near 79th and South Shore Drive is a stroll through the past. The three acres, all tended by South Shore residents, produces an incredible amount of vegetables and flowers. And, it's been going on since about 1942.

"We started, we believe, in World War Two as a victory garden. It's called the Rainbow Beach Victory Garden so it's continually been cultivated for about seventy years or so," Rich Kaleta, longtime victory garden member, said.

All of the original gardeners are gone but the next generations have carried on now for 72 years. During World War 2, victory gardens were a big part of the war effort. Much of the nation's produce was used to feed the troops, so the people at home had to dig in to feed their families.

During World War 2, there were an estimated 20 million victory gardens across America, and 40-percent of the food produced in this country came from victory gardens. Rainbow Beach Victory Garden is one of the last ones left.
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