A Kennebunk museum is taking cues from the past to feed hungry Mainers and teach families about gardening and good nutrition.

The Brick Store Museum has planted a Victory Garden in its rear courtyard to grow vegetables for local food pantries and is giving visitors seeds to sow on their own. Families across the country planted Victory Gardens during World War II to ease food shortages and stretch ration tickets.

Plans for the new exhibit, “Vitamin V: “How Food Fought the Second World War,” began about a year ago as staff catalogued the museum’s war propaganda posters and realized the 1940s focus on nutrition and rationing was especially relevant today.

Volunteers from the Kennebunk Community Garden studied a 1943 pamphlet for home gardeners and helped museum staff choose and plant their crops. Last Friday, they delivered their first harvest of snap peas and New Zealand spinach to a local pantry.

A grant from the Maine Community Foundation’s Saxifrage Opportunity Grants Fund will support the museum’s education programs throughout the year. In addition to free admission for visitors who bring food donations for the Good Shepherd Food-Bank, the museum will host a pickling and drying workshop on July 8, a lecture about food on the home front on July 22, and a nutrition workshop on July 24.

Photo:  Leslie Lindgren, a Master Gardener volunteer from the Kennebunk Community Garden, works in the Brick Store Museum's Victory Garden with a young helper. Museum courtesy photo