Agriculture

         

Allen Jay
Born 1831, Died 1910

    Soon after the educational work was under way the Baltimore association conceived the idea of trying to improve and develop the agricultural resources of the State.  On this subject it made the following record:  “the low and unremunerative state of agriculture in North Carolina exercises a very depressing influence upon every effort to ameliorate the physical and educational condition of her people.  Every other interest, being essentially dependent upon this, languishes under the inadequate reward of the tiller of the soil.  Under this influence the disposition to leave the State after the close of the war had scarcely any limit except the inability to do so.  To educate and enlighten her people without at the same time demonstrating the possibility of greater returns for labor would still further tend to her depopulation.  A work so general in its character could not fail to stimulate Friends to desire improved agriculture.  There had been a continual pressure upon us to establish a model farm and to place among them a practical farmer who should, by improved farming implements, artificial manures, introduction of grasses, selected seed, and stock demonstrate to their eyes the great neglected wealth of the soil, awaiting only the call of improved cultivation; and who, by the establishment of agricultural clubs within the limits of each quarterly meeting, should stimulate a spirit of inquiry and enterprise which would be rewarded by the best practical results.  We have accordingly purchased a farm formerly owned by that honored and devoted servant of Christ, the late Nathan Hunt, at Springfield, on the dividing line between Guilford and Randolph counties.”

    This farm was bought in 1867, after much care and investigation, Francis T. King examining it two or three times himself, with several farmers from Maryland and Pennsylvania.  It contained about two hundred acres and cost $4,400.  The Friends at Springfield were so anxious to have it located there that they paid $700 towards it.  There was a small stream of water running through this farm upon which they erected a bone mill, believed to be the first bone mill erected in the South.  By this means they secured bone dust to use as fertilizer.  They selected as the superintendent of the agricultural work William A. Sampson, of Maine, who took charge of the farm, erected a model dwelling upon it, and a barn built after the most approved plan.

Fourth month 12, 1869, F. T. King wrote to his friend Samuel Bewley, in Ireland, saying that “After three years’ duration it has made wonderful progress, revolutionizing the whole neighborhood.  I often rejoice in tears at this true manifestation of true Christian citizenship on the part of men who were despised for a century past and who suffered patiently for conscience’s sake, now returning good for evil.  


    There are now seventeen agricultural clubs with a membership of over fifteen-hundred.  They meet monthly.  We make this department nearly self-sustaining.  It embraces a model farm, agricultural implements and seed department, four-hundred and fifty subscribers to agricultural papers, all under the care of our superintendent, who is a farmer and a lecturer.  He has solved the grass question, for in 1867 he imported and sold at cost 500 pounds of clover seed; in 1868, 5,000 pounds, and in 1869, 19,880 pounds.”

    The superintendent, in his fourth annual report, in 1871, writes to the Baltimore association: “From a careful estimate, I am satisfied that over 10,000 acres have been successfully sown with clover in consequence of the establishment of your farm.  I have hulled and cleaned several lots of clover seed for various persons this fall and now have one which was brought ten or twelve miles to be cleaned.  By the sale of improved implements, several reapers, mowers, wheelrakes, ploughs, both iron and cast steel, cultivators, clover seed gatherers, etc., have been supplied by me to the farmers, greatly to their satisfaction.  There is music in the click of a mowing machine which to the ear of a progressive man is more potent than the words of an orator, and which is proved in every neighborhood where one is carried.  It instantly suggests the propriety of removing all stumps, stones, sprouts; underdraining the wet places so the horses can travel better; better ploughing to insure a smooth surface; all these improvements speedily followed.  Hardly a day passes without some stranger visiting the farm, and in spring time they come in great numbers, so that during the second and third months it takes nearly all my time to attend to them.  During the last year it was estimated that something over one-thousand persons visited the farm.  Of the improved stock we now have five head of thoroughbred Alderneys, the gift of Charles L. Sharpless, of Philadelphia; James Taylor and Joseph B. Cooper, of New Jersey, and James Carey and James W. Tyson, of Baltimore.”

    This farm was named by the association Swarthmore Farm, but it became known far and wide as the Model Farm.  In 1872, Francis T. King writes: “The effect of our operation on the community has been gratifying and can be seen for fifty miles around.  About 15,000 acres have been sown with clover, in the surrounding counties, since our operations commenced.  Many improved implements have been introduced.  Instead of the scythe and cradle are frequently seen the mower and the reaper.  A large number of people from all parts of the State continue to visit the farm to see for themselves the new way, and they very generally express themselves as satisfied that it is an improvement on the old exhaustive system.  The effect of our educational and agricultural efforts in staying the tide of emigration to the West is very apparent and has already saved to North Carolina hundreds of her best citizens.“


    When the time came that the Baltimore Association felt it had done its duty in the agricultural department, the farm was sold and the proceeds used to advance the educational interests of what is now known as Guilford College. 

--Autobiography of Allen Jay 
pp. 219 - 222.
copyright 1910, 1909, 1908, 
by The John C. Winston Co.


The current state of Global Food Security
Jonathon Foley
University of Minnesota



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