Hello, again History Lovers,
In an effort to help struggling farm women supplement their farm income, Home Demonstration Agents encouraged women to not only grow gardens for their own sustenance but to grow more than what the family needed. The excess could then be marketed in a new way. It would be brought to a designated place in town, put on display, and sold directly to consumers. These Women’s Club Markets, the equivalent to Farmer’s Markets of today, began popping up everywhere on a regular basis. One woman recalls the work involved in preparing for a farmer’s market in Minnesota when she was a youth:
“Vegetables had to be cut, pulled, picked, or dug. Then they had to be loaded and carried to the yard where they were trimmed, bunched, washed, and arranged to be taken to market the following day – until the 1920s by horse and wagon; later by truck. The trip to either Minneapolis or St. Paul market was several miles. This meant getting up at 4:00 am.”–Edna Greenberg Reasoner
The Nineteenth Women’s Club Market
The Councils of Farm Women in South Carolina, together with their Home Demonstration Agents established nineteen women’s club markets in the state. The newest market is in Bennettsville, the county seat of Marlboro County. Last spring the County Council of Farm Women was organized under the leadership of Home Demonstration Agent, Miss Edna Earle. Because of the financial crisis that the county (as with all rural areas) was facing, the council decided that the first thing to do was to organize a market that would take care of the surplus produced on the farms of the county and at the same time provide fresh produce to the people of the town.
A marketing committee was appointed which then had a conference with the superintendent of public schools and the mayor of the town. These men agreed to put the matter before the town council, composed of progressive men, and it was decided to build a market house on the Court House Square. The building is now a most attractive reality. It is substantially built, neatly screened, and conveniently equipped with shelves and counters.
While this house was being built, the club women of the county were not idle, as the enterprising home demonstration agent was putting on a perennial garden campaign in order that the market might be supplied with fresh vegetables all year round. Fruits and vegetables were being canned and other preparations were underway to make the Home Demonstration Club Market a permanent institution of Marlboro County.
The opening of the market was a gala day in Bennettsville, being ushered into existence under most auspicious circumstances, enthusiastically supported by both the town and country people. Mrs. Frances Y. Kline, State Marketing Specialist, was present to assist in making the occasion a successful one. S.E. Evans, County Farm Agent, was also there materially promoting the enterprise. A number of prominent club women, including the president of the county council, were in attendance. The market house was beautifully decorated with flowers and ferns. Fresh vegetables, fruit, chickens, eggs, meats, and other country products were temptingly displayed. Although the market did not open till ten o’clock, by noon everything was disposed of, and the money was being checked out to the producers by the secretary.