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PITE of the cry "back-to-the- abandoned farm area lie? Within a hunland," the last census shows that dred mile radius of the biggest cities in the trend is still from farm to America. The two largest areas of unfactory, from country to town. worked farms are in the southeast and in
In one section of New York New England—within commuting disState alone more than 400,000 people tance of the biggest markets in the have abandoned the country for city life. world. The city and commuting populaPerhaps, that word "abandoned" is a tion of New York is estimated at 6,800,misleader. The farms are still owned, 000; and one-third of the abandoned but their owners are trying in vain to sell farms in America lie within a hundred them ; just as the farms were deserted in mile radius of that market. the first place because the owners tried "You can today buy hundreds of in vain to make a living from them. thousands of acres of land in Indiana,
If you gathered up all the untenanted and Ohio and Kentucky and Tennessee farms of the United States and laid them and Pennsylvania for $10 an acre, which in an oblong block, they would cover an twenty-five years ago brought prices of area twice the size of Massachusetts, $100 and $75 an acre,” declared a soil four times the size of Connecticut, fifteen expert of the Mississippi Valley. In one times bigger than Rhode Island, half as section of New York-from Pennsyllarge as the State of Ohio; or if you vania northward-there is said to be a stretched them out on a straight line ten section seventy miles wide where you miles broad, they would cover from can practically buy a farm for nothing. Maine to Florida—16,000 square miles- That is—you pay a bargain counter price literally a world more tenantless than for the buildings, and get the land free. when Christopher Columbus discovered What is the matter? Where is our America; for when Columbus came, at Christopher Columbus to explore a way least Indians were getting a living from through this sea of waste? this wilderness of waste land.
When you come to examine the aver
age yearly incomes in these abandoned What is the matter? Is it a case of farm areas, the thing is still more hopewanted-a-new-discoverer-of-Down-East? less. The average yearly income in the Look at the facts; then look at them abandoned farm area of the South is not again! Where does the most of that $75 a year—a figure that would put a
peon of Mexico, or a shepherd of Egypt, ing, with fine buildings thrown in at or a serf of Russia to the blush. The about ten cents on the dollar, with old average yearly income of the farmer in orchards only waiting the pruning shears the abandoned farm areas of New York and spray wagon to do their bestest, and and New England runs from $300 to take a breath and look at it—the own$400 a year-less than half an Italian ers can't sell those lands at any price. ditch digger earns, about the same What is the matter? amount as a little girl in one of the sweat- You look wise and talk vaguely about shop shirt factories can earn.
“the labor question.” Prices for produce Again, what is the matter? Are we have increased only twenty-five per cent., land-sick, or man-sick, or gone to punky- and the middleman gets most of that; headedness from dry-rot in our meth- while the cost of labor has increased oneods? This does not mean that there are hundred-and-fifty per cent. Very true; not thousands of splendid modern paying but if that is not so much piffle, why farms Down East. There are; but they does it not apply to the West as well as are so far outnumbered by the degener- to the East ? You have to pay $2 a day ate farm that the averages are reduced for a good orchard man or wheat harto these miserable figures.
vester in the West; and love or money It costs $150 an acre to clear fruit cannot keep him longer than six months; lands in Washington; and when those for he is determined to own his own land lands are set out in fruit, they earn ten and hire his own labor. In the East, you per cent. on a valuation of $500 an acre can get an orchard man or harvester for -earn it easily. I know one fruit ranch $25, at most $40 a month; and I give that yielded 200 per cent. on a valuation you my word of honor from a variety of of $500 an acre. You can buy fruit land experiences, his enterprising spirit will in the East and Middle West for noth- never rise to the heights of owning his
own land and labor. The labor question don't; and again your explanation reis a difficulty impartial as the dews of solves itself not into soil, but the man heaven. It falls alike East and West; and his methods. Or take the apple soils ! only in the West, you pay higher for the Apples don't want humus. They want difficulty.
sandy loam and upland and light and You say the soil of these Eastern areas drainage and air. Haven't the hilly is exhausted; but that is as vague an plateaus of New England such uplands explanation as the talk about labor. The good as Colorado's mesas? Yes—but greatest soil expert in the world—Sir the orchards have too often been planted John Lawe of England—declares that down in the chill of the valley; or else when you come to analyze the chemical like Topsy have “just grow'd,” though constituents of soil, the difference in Eastern apples can boast a brilliant colfarming areas is not so much in chemical oring and fine flavor not possible in composition as condition of tilth-or how warm irrigated areas. Why hasn't New the soil is kept; and that brings you down England, then, such fabulous apple recto the rock-bottom of your explanations ords as Washington and Oregon and --methods. You talk of the great wheat Colorado? Because orchard farming has yield from the plains of the West; but do not been the custom ; and there your soil you know that the special wheat sections explanation is, again, back to the rock of Massachusetts and New York can bottom fact of man and methods. raise wheat crops that make the thirty When you come to discuss market, the bushel yields of the West look small? I advantages are all with the East. The say—can raise, not do raise. That isa market is practically at the back door of few men raise them like a specialist, who this whoie abandoned farm area.
Yet got up in the fifties and sixties per acre the West is beating out the East in farm in Massachusetts last vear
The rest values and profits