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The journey of the cranberry from the bog to the annual holiday dinner table does not follow a straightforward path.

Although the link between American fall and winter holidays, roasted turkey, and cooked cranberries is a tight one in the current food landscape, there is no clear precendent for these particular foods within the history of Thanksgiving. This short review shares the small amount of evidence to support the tradition of cranberries with Thansgiving and early American cuisine, along with the ways in which the U.S. Department of Agriculture supported farmers as they established, grew, and maintained this unique food crop. The USDA's Agricultural Research Service is also investigating this food for its unique properties, including its ability to prevent urinary tract infections and its nature as a source of flavonols.

At the beginning of the year 1913, 90 per cent, or approximately 2,000,000 miles, of the roads in this country were earth. The repair and proper maintenance of earth roads are therefore of great importance.

Hewes, Laurence I. (1913). Repair and Maintenance of Highways. U.S. Department of Agriculture. Office of Public Roads. Bulletin Number 48, p. 35.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture issued publications in the early 1900s that provided guidance on the best ways to build, maintain, and improve the earth roads that were common in rural America at that time. Here is a selection from these USDA reports, along with some supplementary text, to provide a larger context.

Gardening is essentially practical. There is nothing better fitted for the healthful development of children. It affords opportunity for spontaneous activity in the open air, and possibilities for acquiring a fund of interesting and related information; it engenders habits of thrift and economy; develops individual responsibility, and respect for the rights of others; requires regularity, punctuality, and constancy of purpose.

Miller, Louise Klein (1904). Children's Gardens for School and Home: A Manual of Cooperative Gardening. New York: D. Appleton and Company, p. 5

In 1906 the U.S. Department of Agriculture estimated that there were 75,000 school gardens in the United States (Jewell, 1907, pp. 37-38). The first American school garden was established in 1891 at the George Putnam School in Roxbury, Massachusetts. The peak of the school garden movement was reached in the years immediately following World War I when War Gardens turned into Victory Gardens and the urgency for surplus food production began to wane. The value and use of school gardens is enjoying new life however, with the popularity of the local food movement, USDA's current Farm-to-School Program, the USDA's People's Garden, and First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move! Initiative.

This review of the school garden movement in the early 1900s reveals the roots of school gardening as an educational tool designed to enrich many aspects of children's lives.