FARMING IN OREGON
SOUTHERN SECTION OF THE STATE
Farmers' Institute at Medford--Representative Miller's Address--
Advantages to the Farms of Improved Stock.
MEDFORD, Or., Feb. 1.--TO THE EDITOR.--Southern Oregon was all sunshine during the past month, and the light frosts of early morning were followed by clear, beautiful days that greatly favored the efforts of the gentlemen connected with the agricultural college to make a pleasant and successful occasion of the institute recently held in this city. Professor Washburn asserts that this has been the most successful effort of the kind ever held in Oregon. Well-known gentlemen came from all parts of this county. Ashland, Jacksonville, Central Point and Grants Pass sent B. F. Meyer, Judge Prim, Charley Nickell, Henry Klippel, R. A. Miller, Mr. Carson and others, and many practical farmers, stockmen and fruit-growers were present.
Climate here shows a golden mean between the northern valleys of Oregon and that of California. There is not here the excessive rain that is depressing in Willamette winters, nor the excessive heat of California summers. In production, also, it has a convenient position between semi-tropical production, on the one hand, and the growths of the temperate zones at the north. In many respects it has the most satisfactory conditions possible, and realizes an ideal temperature and conditions both in winter and summer. Remoteness will be overcome by all these advantages in course of time, and this section will rank in productiveness and availability as to resources and production with any known regions of earth.
This county and Josephine can feel proud of having very intelligent men now engaged in fruit-growing and faithfully working to develop all branches of that important industry in this region. Of late years J. D. Whitman and J. H. Stewart have made a success of growing fruit in the immediate vicinity of Medford, on rich prairie lands close by here. These two gentlemen have done much to establish and advance fruit production in Southern Oregon, and deserve to be respected for their enterprise, as well as for the intelligent manner in which they conduct their operations.
Mr. Carson, of Applegate, near to Grants Pass, is another gentleman of culture who has left the law to devote himself to production of fruits, and brings to bear on this field a well-stored mind that investigates thoroughly as the work proceeds. Mr. Parker divides his time between his farm in this valley and his law office in Jacksonville, and makes a specialty of rearing swine of the best breeds. Mr. [W. Cortez] Myer, of Ashland, is well known for his Percheron horses and Jersey cattle, and has had an eminence for many years on horse breeding in our state.
While Jackson and Josephine have resources that must in time be developed, I am surprised to see how little has been accomplished in comparison with what is possible. No doubt newcomers hesitate to come this distance from market, and remoteness still applies in some degree to Southern Oregon, though railroad facilities have brought it into much nearer relations than were possessed a few years ago.
The branch railroad running between Jacksonville and Medford is a great accommodation and practically gives identity to the two places and a common interest favorable to both. It is not easy to set a limit to the productive area of this valley, for the greater portion is yet undeveloped, but the foothills capable of producing excellently are very extensive, and the rich gravelly loam of the valley land in many places is unexcelled. As yet the production of fruit is but in its infancy, and the development and experience of the fruitgrower of today will redound to the advantage of newcomers and new beginners for all coming time.
Jacksonville, despite its isolation and indirectness, is a pleasant and attractive place, built partly on the foothills and watered by the creek whose placer mines, yielding millions of rich treasure, once astonished the world, and assured its old-time prosperity. The hills nearby have grown the Miller orchard, and can produce grapes in excellence and with certainty. It is surprising that no more development of the kind is attempted. Apples and pears are a specialty on the prairies near Medford, also peaches and prunes are grown here. Peaches seem to have been a specialty at Ashland. The future must see a really great area of soil hereabouts in successful cultivation for fruit production, for it can be rolled on to produce fruits of size, excellence and flavor unsurpassed.
Medford is evidently prosperous and the seat of a good trade. Its opera house is a comfortable hall where public meetings can be agreeably held. People generally turned out to attend the institute and make its meetings interesting.
The institute opened with an address from J. D. Whitman, on "The Advantages of Improved Stock to Farmers."
In his address of welcome the chairman alluded to Medford as a town of eight years' growth; its buildings are substantial; it has a sash and door factory and other industrial concerns; a pork packing and meat canning establishment doing good work, as well as a distillery that he intimated worked for foreign consumption. Medford has good public schools, well officered, and seems really prosperous and likely to prosper in the future.
Professor Shaw, on part of the agricultural college, showed its purposes and workings, as well as its relations to the farming interests of our state, and wish to advance their best efforts.
The institute was held, he said, to consult with practical farmers of this region, and drop any ideas they may have that can be of use, as well as learn more of the country.
Mrs. Susan West read an excellent paper on farm life, the room for development, comparison between old times and new, the monotony of life and overwork that drives the boys from the farm. She told of two homes recently established near Medford by strangers. Times look gloomy to the old-timer, but these newcomers redeemed the condemned soil, planted and cared for it until it became covered with richly bearing trees, while their homes displayed works of art and valuable books.
Professor Narregan, principal of the public schools, read a good paper on "The Value of Industrial Education."
Discussion of subjects offered occasionally involved gentlemen who made such topics interesting outside the regular programme.
"Silos and Ensilage" was the subject of practical illustration by Professor French. The subject seemed new to farmers here. It was received with close attention. It is full time that Oregon farmers generally made use of this manner of feeding green fodder to make it available all the year round.
"Overproduction of Fruit" was the subject discussed by J. H. Stewart, one of the progressive fruit-growers of this region, who boasts that he receives $1 a box for apples this year, and the purchaser furnishes the boxes. Mr. Stewart argues that fruit must be a drug and the world will have no use for it, therefore men should be slow to plant more trees. The audience hardly gave Mr. Stewart credit for disinterestedness or sincerity, as he does not follow his own counsel, but plants trees continually. I heard one gentleman quote the old proverb, "Actions speak louder than words," at his expense. It is well enough to discuss all sides of this question, but not so well for old fruit men to try to discourage new beginners. It is true enough that fruitgrowing will be as conspicuous for failures as for success, but that will usually be due to neglect and want of care, and thorough care and cultivation, not because the world has no use for our products.
In this connection Rev. Mr. Edmunds, of Medford, remarked that Senator Parker, of California, went to England and Europe not long ago and found that the superiority of California fruits was appreciated there, and a market for them could be depended on any time when a surplus existed for export. Mr. Edmunds added a tribute--very emphatic, too--of the excellence and superiority of Oregon fruits as compared with the products of California, his former home.
Professor Washburn made a very interesting talk about insects beneficial to farming, because they live on and destroy pests. This is an interesting and important matter, and fruit-growers should be educated to know and respect this class of insect life.
Hon. H. B. Miller, of Grants Pass, must have astonished any old fogeys who may have been present by his opinions concerning the needs of education by agriculturists. He proposed education as the remedy for all their ills and the sovereign panacea to secure their rights and remedy their wrongs and ensure farmers their proper place in the nation. Mr. Miller is a forcible and graceful speaker, and is especially happy in the use of language. He showed that while all other classes are represented by the greatest human intellect to secure their position, the farmer alone has permitted, in the past, his cause to be neglected and unrepresented, while by all ordinary reasoning he should be the most powerful in respect to political, social and educational measures, because he represents the greatest and most important interest known as producer of the staples of life. Complaint is made of monopoly, of middlemen, of financial stringency and class legislation and a remedy is demanded, but the only efficient remedy will be to educate the farmer. The professional men and merchants are educated to their respective positions and so prepared to ensure their success. The farmer alone, who needs as much as any to be thoroughly educated and trained for his work, follows obsolete precedent and tradition, lagging behind those of his own class who by education are able to comprehend cause and effect and so realize success. There is no more interesting and important study than soil and climate and conditions afford. Educate the farmers of the world and they will rule the world fairly and impartially and prevent the many abuses that now exist and ensure their own prosperity while they also ensure that of the whole people.
In days of Roman greatness agriculture was the study of wise men, and of the greatest as well. Small farms and educated industry were the cause of Roman prosperity, and when war and conquest became the object of Roman ambition, agriculture was relegated to slaves and the decline of the Roman empire began.
You may say all the trades should also be educated, but these are only industrial features, and every trade demands an apprenticeship that is an education. Whereas agriculture is the basis of all prosperity and excellent [sic]. The mechanic requires skill by system and organized discipline that does not exist in the cause of the farmer. Farmers' homes should, if refined and cultured, affect and improve the whole world. Give farmers the power they should claim and exercise and they will revolutionize and reform the conditions of the world's civilization. The coming of that day depends on your will, your wisdom and your acts.
The gentlemen of the college--Professors Shaw, Washburn, Coste and French--express themselves as greatly pleased with the interest taken and assert that the institute held now at Medford has been the most successful and satisfactory of all yet held in our state.
S. A. CLARKE.Oregonian, Portland, February 12, 1892, page 9
Last revised March 20, 2014