• Food and Rationing
  • Families

Let's get Veggie!

Taking inspiration from the children of the First World War, we’ll be reducing our food waste and getting inventive with our leftover veggies!

Mission Briefing

Part of the Family Mission series created during the UK lockdown in Spring 2020. CBBC Presenter Ben Shires sets your veg-tastic mission


[On Screen: 

Filey, North Yorkshire 1918 

Ben needs a snack! 

An idea! 

A few sunny Yorkshire weeks later... 

Happy, healthy Ben!] 

Hello, I'm Ben Shires, and I'm here to tell you all about this week's Family Mission for Imperial War Museums.  

If you've been watching our ‘Adventures in History’ videos over on YouTube, then you’ll have seen Ngaire telling us all about how important members of the public were to the war effort during the First World War. And being young was no excuse! You still had to do your bit. So, we're taking our inspiration for this week's Family Mission from the children of the First World War.  

Children took on a variety of roles, including delivering messages and growing vegetables. But why did we have to grow vegetables, I hear you cry? Well, not all the food that's eaten in the UK actually is grown here. Some of it is shipped in from overseas, and when the war started that became increasingly difficult, leading to shortages in the shops. In the beginning, people started to panic buy and hoard food, so the government stepped in and introduced rationing and encouraged everyone to grow their own food. In fact, some people even kept chickens so they could have eggs! Children really stepped up and helped with growing vegetables, at school, in the local parks, and in their own back gardens at home.  

So, for this week's Family Mission, we want you to get inspired, get creative, and get using your veggies! Whether that be growing your own veggies at home, using the scraps and peels to make vegetable stock, or even using leftover vegetables to make your own clothes dye. There's loads of information at the IWM website - just follow the link below. Oh, and remember... have fun! Bye! 

Children in the First World War helped the war effort by growing vegetables in their schools, gardens and parks. It is just as important today as it was then for everyone to try and reduce their waste and make more of what we have.

Top Tips for Reducing Waste

A leek grown as part of IWM's Family Mission: Grow Your Own First World War-inspired challenge
Growing from scraps:

You can re-grow some vegetables from their scraps. For example, celery and lettuce can be re-grown using leftovers. Once you have enjoyed your tasty snack save the bottom or base of the vegetable and pop it in a bowl of water. Ensure the bowl is in direct sunlight and soon enough you’ll start to see them re-grow. Once they start growing, you’ll need to transfer them to soil to fully re-grow.

Here's one Ngaire made earlier...


Make your own stock:

Perhaps you’ve made a Sunday roast and you have lots of scraps and peelings left from your vegetables. You can pop these all into a pot with a bit of salt, cover with plenty of water and boil them on a low heat for a few hours to make your own vegetable stock. You can use your vegetable stock in lots of delicious dishes such as curries, soups and stews.

Fabric dyes:

Some vegetables can be used to make vegetable dyes for your clothes. Maybe you can try it out on a pair of socks?

  • Choose what colour you want it to be, some old wilted spinach could be great to use if you want something green.
  • Put the veg in a pot of boiling water and cover for a few hours.
  • Strain out the vegetables and the remaining liquid is your dye.
  • You’ll need to add salt so the clothes keep their colour.
  • Pop the socks into the dye and leave for a few hours.

Remember to use an old pot, and gloves so your hands don’t get stained!

Don’t forget to tell us how you get on or even better show us what you’ve been doing with your veggies on IWM’s Facebook and Twitter


Explore Further

Poster for IWM learning content Adventures in History: Cakes Made from Carrots
Home Learning

Cakes Made From Carrots

Join IWM expert Ngaire as she tells real life stories of how people satisfied their sweet tooth despite rationing in the Second World War.


Poster image for episode of Adventures in History: Carers Part One
Home Learning

Carers - Part One

Discover how people cared for the wounded in the First World War, how they used their skills and resourcefulness to make sure the injured were cared for.

Home Front

Rationing and Food Shortages During the First World War

Hunger stalked the civilian populations of all the combatant nations. Agriculture and food distribution suffered from strains imposed by the war and naval blockades reduced food imports. 


Family Mission has been created with the generous support of Old Possum's Practical Trust