Exploring Reasons for Trench Gardens

Part of the "The Presence of Poppies and the Possibilities of Potatoes" Collection


Students will learn about the benefits and historical significance of trench gardens.

Estimated Time

45 Minutes

Setting Required



  • SS5H8  The student will describe U.S. involvement in World War I and post-World War I America
    • a. Explain how German attacks on U.S. shipping during the war in Europe (1914 – 1917) ultimately led the U.S. to join the fight against Germany; include the sinking of the Lusitania and concerns over safety of U.S. ships, U.S. contributions to the war, and the impact of the Treaty of Versailles in 1919.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.5.2 Determine two or more main ideas of a text and explain how they are supported by key details; summarize the text.



  1. Read aloud from “Defiant Gardens” the first quote and discuss the meaning with students:“Small pleasure must correct great tragedies,
    Therefore of gardens in the midst of war
    I boldly tell.”
    – Vita Sackville-West, The Garden
  2. Divide the class into five small groups and assign each group one of the attributes of a garden that is described later in the text: life, home, work, hope, and beauty. Ask students to read the passage about their attribute as a small group and then summarize to the class.
  3. Provide students with time to read the next section “Trench Gardens: The Western Front in World War” in different small groups. Ask students to pull the main ideas from the text and support them with details to answer the following questions:
    • What did trench gardens tell us about the war?
    • What did trench gardens tell us about the soldiers and their needs?
  4. Display or distribute copies of “Telegraph: How Front Line Forget-Me-Nots Helped Troops Forget the Horror” for students to read independently. Ask students to identify additional details that support the main ideas they developed from the previous text.