WHERE GIRLS LEARN TO WIELD SPADE AND HOE
From: How To Write Special Feature Articles
(Category: PART II
To go to school in a potato patch; to say one's lessons to a farmer; to
study in an orchard and do laboratory work in a greenhouse--this is the
pleasant lot of the modern girl who goes to a school of horticulture
instead of going to college, or perhaps after going to college.
If ever there was a vocation that seemed specially adapted to many
women, gardening would at first glance be the one. From the time of
"Mistress Mary, quite contrary,
How does your garden grow?"
down to the busy city woman who to-day takes her recreation by digging
in her flowerbeds, gardens have seemed a natural habitat for womankind,
and garden activities have belonged to her by right.
In various parts of the country there have now been established schools
where young women may learn the ways of trees and shrubs, vegetables and
flowers, and may do experimental work among the growing things
themselves. Some of these schools are merely adjuncts of the state
agricultural colleges, with more or less limited courses of
instruction; but, just out of Philadelphia, there is a school, to which
women only are admitted, that is located on a real farm, and covers a
wide range of outdoor study.
One begins to feel the homely charm of the place the moment instructions
are given as to how to reach it.
"Out the old Lime-kiln road," you are told. And out the old Lime-kiln
road you go, until you come to a farm which spells the perfection of
care in every clump of trees and every row of vegetables. Some girls in
broad-brimmed hats are working in the Strawberry bed--if you go in
strawberry time--and farther on a group of women have gathered, with an
overalled instructor, under an apple tree the needs of which are being
Under some sedate shade trees, you are led to an old Pennsylvania stone
farmhouse--the administration building, if you please. Beyond are the
barns, poultry houses, nurseries and greenhouses, and a cottage which is
used as a dormitory for the girls--as unlike the usual dormitory as the
school is unlike the usual school. A bee colony has its own little white
village near by.
Then the director, a trained woman landscape gardener, tells you all
that this school of horticulture has accomplished since its founding
five years ago.
"Women are naturally fitted for gardening, and for some years past there
have been many calls for women to be teachers in school gardens,
planners of private gardens, or landscape gardeners in institutions for
women. Very few women, however, have had the practical training to
enable them to fill such positions, and five years ago there was little
opportunity for them to obtain such training. At that time a number of
women in and about Philadelphia, who realized the need for thorough
teaching in all the branches of horticulture, not merely in theory but
in practice, organized this school. The course is planned to equip women
with the practical knowledge that will enable them to manage private and
commercial gardens, greenhouses or orchards. Some women wish to learn
how to care for their own well-loved gardens; some young girls study
with the idea of establishing their own greenhouses and raising flowers
as a means of livelihood; still others want to go in for fruit farming,
and even for poultry raising or bee culture.
"In other countries, schools of gardening for women are holding a
recognized place in the educational world. In England, Belgium,
Germany, Italy, Denmark and Russia, such institutions have long passed
the experimental stage; graduates from their schools are managing large
estates or holding responsible positions as directors of public or
private gardens, as managers of commercial greenhouses, or as consulting
horticulturists and lecturers. In this country there is a growing demand
for supervisors of home and school gardens, for work on plantations and
model farms, and for landscape gardeners. Such positions command large
salaries, and the comparatively few women available for them are almost
certain to attain success."
Already one of the graduates has issued a modest brown circular stating
that she is equipped to supply ideas for gardens and personally to plant
them; to expend limited sums of money to the best advantage for beauty
and service; to take entire charge of gardens and orchards for the
season and personally to supervise gardens during the owners' absence;
to spray ornamental trees and shrubs, and prune them; and to care for
indoor plants and window boxes.
"She is making a success of it, too. She has all she can do," comments
one of the women directors, who is standing by.
A smiling strawberry student, who is passing, readily tells all that
going to a garden school means.
"Each one of us has her own small plot of ground for which she is
responsible. We have to plant it, care for it, and be marked on it. We
all have special care of certain parts of the greenhouse, too, and each
has a part of the nursery, the orchard and the vineyard. Even the work
that is too heavy for us we have to study about, so that we can direct
helpers when the time comes. We have to understand every detail of it
all. We have to keep a daily record of our work. This is the way to
learn how long it takes for different seeds to germinate, and thus we
watch the development of the fruits and flowers and vegetables. You see,
the attendance at the school is limited to a small number; so each one
of us receives a great deal of individual attention and help.
"We learn simple carpentry, as part of the course, so that we shall be
able to make window boxes, flats, cold frames and other articles that we
need. We could even make a greenhouse, if we had to. We are taught the
care and raising of poultry, we learn bee culture, and we have a course
in landscape gardening. There is a course in canning and preserving,
too, so that our fruits and berries can be disposed of in that way, if
we should not be able to sell them outright, when we have the gardens
of our own that we are all looking forward to."
In the cozy cottage that serves as a dormitory, there is a large
classroom, where the lectures in botany, entomology, soils and
horticultural chemistry are given. There is a staff of instructors, all
from well-known universities, and a master farmer to impart the
practical everyday process of managing fields and orchards. Special
lectures are given frequently by experts in various subjects. In the
cottage is a big, homelike living-room, where the girls read and sing
and dance in the evening. Each girl takes care of her own bedroom.
The costumes worn by these garden students are durable, appropriate and
most becoming. The school colors are the woodsy ones of brown and green,
and the working garb is carried out in these colors. Brown khaki or
corduroy skirts, eight inches from the ground, with two large pockets,
are worn under soft green smocks smocked in brown. The sweaters are
brown or green, and there is a soft hat for winter and a large shade hat
for summer. Heavy working gloves and boots are provided, and a large
apron with pockets goes with the outfit.
All in all, you feel sure, as you go back down the "old Lime-Kiln road,"
that the motto of the school will be fulfilled in the life of each of
its students: "So enter that daily thou mayst become more thoughtful and
more learned. So depart that daily thou mayst become more useful to
thyself and to all mankind."
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