HOW BIG BUSINESS HELPED
Organized Effort to Can the Kaiser
Like that young man of great possessions who came to Christ, inquiring, "What
shall I do to be saved?" hundreds of men who possessed or represented immense
wealth, captains of industry and leaders of big business, came forward in this
present-day struggle against pharisaism and demanded: "What can we do to help?"
In their desire to back up the government, they were ready to do anything
possible to increase the efficiency of either their works or their workers.
Even before the war began, a few manufacturing concerns had
started community gardening among their employés, though the number of such
enterprises was small. Once the war-time need of food was pointed out, however,
business and industrial plants in every part of the country organized their men
for garden production.
Happiness has been defined as a by-product of labor.
Straightway the concern engaged in the war-garden movement found that it, too,
had a valuable by-product, and that was increased efficiency among the workers.
It was not alone through the addition of certain amounts of food products to the
nation's supplies that war gardening proved valuable. It reacted on the spirit
of the workers themselves. It built up a feeling of good-fellowship not
previously existing. It engendered a spirit of coöperation that carried over
into the work of the shop. It created that intangible and invaluable thing,
esprit de corps. It was productive of many good results throughout entire
communities, which were reflected in the general financial and social conditions
within those communities.
No less marked were the gains from the employers' point of
view. The contented workman is the efficient workman; and gardening, by
providing better food than can be had in the markets, and by virtually adding to
the worker's income, makes him more contented. Money that otherwise would have
to be spent for food can be used for the purchase of those small comforts and
luxuries that make for added happiness in the home.
Of great worth, too, is the recreational value of gardening.
The toiler in a noisy mill, or the worker in a smoky forge or factory can find
no avocation, no recreation, that will build him up physically and refresh his
energies as will the cultivation of a plot of ground.
Unexpectedly enough, also, war gardening resulted in a
lessening of the labor turnover. One striking testimonial on this latter point
was contained in a report to the Commission from a busy manufacturing city in
the Middle West. "Workers here," said this report, "refused to leave the city to
take work at higher wages elsewhere because they had planted fine war gardens
and were so proud of them they would not leave them."
A FACTORY WORKER DID
Here is a corner of a fine war garden, covering in all about an
acre of ground, which was intensively cultivated by an employe of the Eastman
Kodak Company, Rochester, New York. It was an inspiration to hundreds of other
workers who vied wit each other to make their plot as productive as possible.
Great enthusiasm was shown throughout the entire city in this form of war work.
Moreover, the knowledge that his employer is interested in
his welfare inevitably creates a kindlier feeling on the part of an employé
toward his employer. When officials of large concerns worked side by side with
their men in the factory gardens, as many far-seeing managers did, a sympathetic
understanding sprang up that could have been created in scarcely any other way.
War gardening gave opportunity for the "personal touch" which manufacturing on a
large scale and collective bargaining have almost eliminated from modern
Perhaps these things can best be made clear by quoting a
captain of industry. Speaking not only for himself, but also for other leaders
of "big business," the superintendent of Foster, Merriam & Company, of Meriden,
Connecticut, wrote as follows to the National War Garden Commission, after war
gardening had been tried out for a year at his plant:
Besides the material gain, the garden work promoted a fine
spirit of democracy and fellowship among the men. Everybody, from the president
to the humblest employé, had a garden plot. And officers and employés, working
together as they did, found mutual interests and fellowship there. The employés
took a great deal of interest in the work and kept the entire ten acres in
perfect shape, free from weeds, and well cared for at all times. Owing to the
interest manifested and the good results obtained, it will be necessary to
secure additional land next year.
Among the large companies which helped their men in this
way was the Carnegie Steel Company. Here is what the superintendent of one of
the Carnegie plants wrote the National War Garden Commission:
The plots were taken by men in all classes of employment.
Laborers, skilled operators, clerks, and executives–a large number of them
without previous experience–went into the work. A great variety of produce was
raised. Much spirit and rivalry developed among the gardeners, this being
increased by the offer of prizes for the best gardens. In spite of the fact that
the river twice flooded part of the gardens during the growing season, two of
the prizes were taken by workers in the flooded areas. The general average of
the gardens was above eighty per cent., and thirteen of them above eighty-four
percent. Only one was adjudged a failure. The committee of judges was compelled
to revisit the gardens twice after the first marking in order to decide on the
winners, and even then had to place several of them on a par.
The gardens were not only an assistance to livelihood and a
decided profit to the average worker, but were also an inspiration and
fascination, as well as a means of pleasure and healthful education and
From the rock-bound coasts of New England to the far-flung
shores of the Pacific, the war gardens of the workers in industry stretched in
an almost unbroken line. The lumber camps of Washington and Oregon and the
mining settlements of Arizona boasted their war gardens. The iron, cement and
motor-car makers of the Middle West had their garden plots. The copper regions
of Michigan, the shipyards of Texas, and the roaring mills of the East, all
beheld the sudden upspringing of great gardens.
THE FAMILY HELPS
Here is shown an employe of he Oliver Chilled Plow Works at South
Bend, Indiana, with the rest of the members of his family, industriously
employed in the garden. This company furnished several large tracts for its men,
and hundreds of them took advantage of this opportunity to help themselves and
their country at the same time.
"Our purpose is to encourage the raising of fresh
vegetables at the mills and logging camps of this state and Oregon where
employés are engaged in the production of essential war material for shipping
and aircraft purposes," was the inspiring word from Robert B. Allen, of Seattle,
secretary of the West Coast Lumbermen's Association. C.S. Williams,
vice-president of the F.B. Williams Cypress Company, of Patterson, Louisiana,
reported thus to the Commission:
We are pleased to advise that practically every available
piece of land that we own around the plant is being used for war gardens for our
employés. There seems to be a great interest in home gardening throughout this
territory. We have never seen the land so entirely and carefully cultivated.
Hardly a family is without a garden. Almost every one of our men has a garden.
The books you sent were quickly taken and have been of great service to our
people. They are now planning a great canning campaign.
One of the most interesting instances of this eagerness to
help both country and its employés, was furnished by the Inspiration
Consolidated Copper Company, of Inspiration, Arizona. Before a thing could be
planted, it was necessary to dig five artesian wells to furnish the water needed
for the two hundred and seventeen acres of war gardens cultivated by the miners
in the first year of the enterprise. The land was situated 3,300 feet up in the
mountains. The region was arid. The employés were cosmopolitan. Italians,
Chileans, Mexicans, Indians, Finns, Swedes and other nationalities were
represented in the polyglot assembly. Few of them spoke much English, and more
than seventy per cent. of them spoke no English at all. It was necessary not
only to instruct them, but to translate and print bulletins and lesson-sheets in
a number of languages.
A garden expert from the Arizona Agricultural Station was
engaged to take charge of the enterprise. The double-crop system was employed so
that as soon as one crop was harvested another was started. If any war gardener
was found who did not take proper care of the plot assigned to him, the ground
was taken from him and given to another. A market was established to which the
growers could carry any of their surplus product and have it sold for them
without charge for the service. Nothing was permitted to go to waste, and the
food which could not be used at once was canned or dried and stored for future
use. On account of the climate most of the conservation was by the drying
process. The amount of food grown was large and the saving in this instance was
particularly great because of the distance of the mining center from great
Something as to the methods used by other corporations in
promoting the war-garden movement among their workers may here be of interest.
From Mr. Luther D. Burlingame, industrial superintendent of the Brown & Sharpe
Manufacturing Company, at Providence, Rhode Island, comes an instructive report.
This concern opened the war-garden campaign by posting a
notice on the shop bulletin-boards announcing a chance to serve country and
family by helping to meet the serious shortage in the food supply, and informing
the men that the company would furnish land, and plow and fertilize it free for
those who would raise crops. Cards for applicants were furnished to the clerks
in each department of the shop.
The plots were divided into several groups, in order that the
men might secure gardens as near as possible to their places of residence. After
the drawing, the numbers of the gardens were filled in on the cards. The
required requisitions for fertilizer and seed went through the supply
department. The supplies purchased were obtained at wholesale prices, the men
being charged only enough above cost to pay for the handling and accounting.
To each gardener was given a card which bore his name,
address, and the number of his garden plot, to constitute proof that he or any
member of his family carrying it had a right to the particular plot designated.
These cards were issued for the protection of both gardens and gardeners.
Printed on them were the following rules:
1. Members shall keep their plots weeded and as free from
bugs and injurious insects as possible.
2. Members shall not throw refuse on neighboring plots, or in
paths. After harvesting, lots are to be cleaned, and refuse taken to places
3. Members shall not plant closer than 12 inches from the
boundary line. Any one working your lot must show this card.
A gardening club was organized with elected officers
representing as far as possible the different departments of the shop and
different plots of land. The general administration of the project was in the
hands of the shop industrial department, but the gardening club was consulted
and asked to pass on many matters which had to do with the satisfactory
carrying-on of the work, thus giving them something to say as to what should be
done. Part of the plowing was done with a tractor. The land was divided into
individual plots each containing from 2,000 to 2,500 square feet; and stakes
were set diagonally at the corners of each plot with the number of each plot
showing at each corner. At the largest garden center a tool-shed about sixteen
by thirty-six feet in size was erected where running water was available and a
man placed in charge so that tools could be given out on check. This shed was
open from daylight to shortly before working hours each week-day, again at
noontime, and from six o'clock in the afternoon until dark. It was also open on
Saturday afternoon and to some extent on Sundays. A slight charge was made those
who desired to hire tools instead of buying their own.
To supervise the gardens and give general instructions to the
men who had not previously had gardening experience, a practical farmer with
training in an agricultural college was employed. As at other plants throughout
the country the gardens in many cases became family affairs, and all the members
of a family took part either in work or in supervision.
VERSATILE MANUFACTURING CONCERN
In this war garden of the Globe Machine and stamping Company,
Cleveland, Ohio, the shop employes raised a wide variety of vegetables in sight
and sound of the shop. The list included cabbage, sweet corn, onions, parsnips,
tomatoes, beans, peppers and fifteen other varieties of things to eat.
"As the season advanced,: said Mr. Burlingame, "a spirit
of good-fellowship and the forming of new acquaintanceships among those who
found themselves cultivating neighboring gardens, were features which added to
the value of the garden project. It was sometimes found that a laborer working
side by side with a foreman could, from the gardener's standpoint, turn the
tables, become instructor, and set the pace. When illness prevented some man
from working and there were no members of his family to help out, shopmates
volunteered and cared for his garden or even harvested his crops for him. Often
gardens cultivated by men having had experience adjoined those where the workers
were beginners. In such cases the best good-will was shown in giving and taking
advice and instruction."|
Regular inspections of the gardens were made and records
kept. If a garden showed signs of being neglected, a notice was sent to the
workman and this tended to spur the food growers on to keep their plots in such
excellent condition that there would not no need for criticism. The men took
their work very seriously. Some swamp land which had never been cultivated and
which was considered absolutely useless for garden purposes was reclaimed and
produced excellent results. The largest crop of potatoes in a single garden,
twenty bushels, was raised on a lot which the gardener enlarged by digging up
land which had been a dump beyond the plowing. A number of prizes which were
offered by the company for the best crops both as to size and quality aroused
keen and friendly rivalry and had much to do with stimulating the progress of
the undertaking. An exhibition was held in a shed at the factory at the close of
In the first year of this work, 1917, there was grown in
500 gardens covering thirty acres of land, food valued at $10,000. This added to
the food supply of the workers 4,000 bushels of potatoes, 254 bushels of beans,
223 bushels of tomatoes, five and a half tons of turnips, more than two tons of
carrots, three tons of cabbage, and nearly a ton of parsnips, besides a large
quantity of other vegetables.
Similar statistics were gathered by the Firestone Tire and
Rubber Company, of Akron, Ohio, as to the value of the crops produced by the
Firestone workers on a tract of forty acres. The average value per acre of these
crops was $280. The men raised $14,205 worth of food. The total expenses were
$3,024. The net profit was $11,182. It was figured out that the men earned on
the average almost a dollar an hour for the time spent in cultivating their
plots, the exact figures being ninety-four cents an hour.
Gratifying as these financial rewards were, the workers were
perhaps even better pleased with the realization that they were aiding in
bringing victory nearer. They knew that they were cutting market and grocery
bills by raising a part of their own supplies; but they also realized that to
win the war, "food must be kept following the flag."
GARDEN DISPLAY IN BANK WINDOW
Hundreds of banks throughout the country assisted actively in the
drive for home-grown food, just as they did in the other patriotic calls which
the nation made to them. The Paterson savings Institution, of Paterson, New
Jersey, was one of those which distributed garden booklets, furnished by the
National War Garden Commission to its patrons, and held an exhibit of resulting
products which attracted great interest.
No class of people in the country was in a position to
realize more fully the immense value of war gardens in another direction than
the manufacturers and their employés. This was in the saving effected in
transportation facilities. These men knew better than any others the urgent
demand which essential war shipping was making on freight-cars. They saw and
handled daily the vast quantities of raw materials and finished products which
had to be hauled. They knew there was a shortage which could not be made up
entirely. They were cognizant also that gardening would result in a considerable
conservation of carrier space which could help to fill the demand. If hundreds
of thousands of workmen in all parts of the United States were growing much of
their own food right near their homes, it required no argument to prove that
long lines of cars would be released for other service.
The industrial promotion of the war-garden movement was not
confined to manufacturers. Railroads, large insurance companies, public
utilities in many sections, banks, and those engaged in numerous other lines of
industrial and commercial activity, were equally enthusiastic and active in
forwarding the movement. Gas companies opened demonstration kitchens and gave
out thousands of books and other printed matter. Water companies in many places
throughout the West, where the land required irrigation for cultivation,
furnished water free to all those who announced their intention of planting war
gardens. Banks which helped so unselfishly and patriotically in other campaigns,
urged home food production upon their patrons by handing to them leaflets
pointing out the national need and the pressing importance of this work, and by
giving out also instruction books from the Commission telling the city farmer
how to proceed.
Praise must be extended to business as a whole for the
part it has taken in aiding the cultivation of war gardens by the nation's army
of workers. A list of the concerns which have helped in this way would be
practically all inclusive. Among the big nationally known companies which have
been especially active in this form of war work are the Oliver Chilled Plow
Company, Du Pont de Nemours & Company, the American Rolling Mill Company, the
American Woolen Company, the General Electric Company, the United States Steel
Corporation, the American Optical Company, the American Cast Iron Pipe Company,
the American Steel and Wire company, the J.I. Case Plow Works, the Universal
Portland Cement Company, the Oliver Iron Mining Company, The Ford Motor Company,
the Solvay Process Company and the Eastman Kodak Company.
Employés at the various mills of the American Woolen Company
planted in 1918 a total of 1,229 acres of gardens; and Mr. William M. Wood, the
president of this big manufacturing concern which made large quantities of
clothing to help keep the American soldiers warm, expressed his gratification at
this other way in which the employés were working to help their country.
MADE NO DIFFERENCE
Here are shown former citizens of three different countries, but
all Americans now, who helped through their war gardens to win the war. They are
employes of the Oliver Chilled Plow Company, South Bend, Indiana, which
furnished land and otherwise assisted its men to take care of their home food
needs. These men show by their satisfied look how much they appreciated this
As to some of the benefits to the workmen themselves, the
moral strength which they gain from their employment in this side occupation of
gardening, their release from the narrowing and confining work in which they
often are engaged, it is appropriate to quote from an article by Professor
Irving Fisher of Yale University, a member of the Commission, in which he says:
A laboring man sees his work sweep by him, a peg in a
shoe, a bolt in an automobile, and since he is not able to visualize his part in
the product, his work ceases to be interesting and becomes drudgery. He wants to
shorten his hours; and the employer, whose work is interesting, whose work is
his life, cannot understand why the employé is always trying to shirk, whereas
he himself is willing to work twelve or sixteen hours a day. The reason is that
in one case the instinct of workmanship is satisfied and in the other case it is
Here we have summarized in a telling way one of the best
possible arguments in favor of the upbuilding, the strengthening, and the
continuation of war gardening among the employés of mills, factories and shops.
The tasks they are performing in most cases do not satisfy their "instinct of
workmanship." They do not finish their day's labor and go home with the feeling
that they have taken a step forward, that they have accomplished something which
will add to their value to themselves, their families, the community and the
A man who is a cog in a vast machine cannot put
individuality into the driving of continuous pegs into a shoe; but when he gets
outside the walls of the factory into the little forty by sixty vegetable plot
he is cultivating under the shadow of the mill, he can put himself into this
work. It is for his own good. What he grows there will be his own property. It
will go to support himself and his family. How much or how little of it there
will be depends upon himself, upon how intelligently and how faithfully he cares
for the plants. He takes an interest in watching every development from day to
day because he is to reap the reward. This work is his own. It means that he
will take a deeper interest thereafter in the work he is doing for his employer.
It is only natural that a man should feel a more real concern and show greater
pride in doing something where he will share in the profit. It is not in any
sense disparagement to a workman to say that he cannot display the same sense of
gratification in his regular work.
There is greater diversity in the cultivation of a garden
than in most other tasks. It offers, in fact its successful prosecution demands,
good judgment and the display of sound sense. This is healthful exercise for the
mind, which makes it more alert and more able to grasp and figure out other
problems arising every day of the workman's life. Combined with this mental
activity is the invigorating bodily exercise than which there is none better
than digging in the earth and getting close to nature.
IS NOT NEPTUNE
Joe Borzell, an employe of the Oliver Chilled Plow Company, South
Bend, Indiana, was proud to pose for his picture with some of the fine potatoes
and cabbages he had raised in his war garden. It is plainly to be seen that some
of the company's other workers who had gardens had to show extra fine results to
beat this man's products.
While the reports to the National War Garden Commission show
that the methods adopted by various manufacturing concerns which encouraged
gardening among their men differed somewhat in detail, as would of necessity be
the case, still the fundamental principles were the same; and the results
obtained, chief among them better contentment among the men, were everywhere
alike. The commission feels that no other single phase of its work has been of
greater and of more lasting benefit than the stimulus it has been able to give
to the wonderful growth of factory gardening. Increased food production by this
means is of immeasurable value to the nation, to the community, to the employer
of labor, and to the individual. In congested industrial centers it is
particularly desirable that every possible relief be given to freight
transportation systems; and the raising of large quantities of food. "F.O.B. the
Factory Door" affords great help in that direction. Business men have seen the
advantage of this movement and will continue to encourage and expand gardening
among their employés.