With the coming harvest season, I am reminded of the
practices for preserving food during World War Two. In 1943, with the war going full blast, every
family tried to raise food in their own “victory gardens.” The produce of these gardens seemed so abundant
questions developed on how to best preserve the extra food. In Elk River a unique program developed to
provide canning services to any family in need of the service.
In June 1943, the Elk River newspaper announced the
high school acquired a canning unit capable of processing 500 quarts per
day. With the aid of supervisors, anyone
needing access to the canning unit might preserve any food grown in their
victory gardens. The unit canned in glass
or tin cans. If the family used tin
cans, they would be charged two cents per can.
The only shortcoming of the program concerned
vandalism of victory gardens. In July,
the Village Marshall posted an ad in the Elk River newspapers. He knew of several vandals destroying victory
gardens. He wanted to give them an
opportunity to turn themselves in before he turned these cases over to the
state for prosecution. The Marshall’s
tactics apparently succeeded, as the vandalism stopped, and the Elk River
canning unit preserved a bumper crop of garden produce.
The canning units in Elk River serve as another example of the attitude of complete cooperation during World War Two.