Women’s Club Markets 1921

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.

Garden Campaign

Growing large gardens for sustenance and for additional income.

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.

Gala Event

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.


Plan Your Garden For Year Round Produce

Hello, again History Lovers,

Planning a kitchen garden to grow enough for a family’s immediate needs as well as plenty to be preserved against the scarcity of winter and early spring is the advice offered by The Farmer’s Wife–A Magazine For Farm Women in February 1922. Self-reliance was essential for farm families in order to feed themselves throughout the year. Every ounce of the garden produce was eaten fresh, stored in a root cellar, canned, dried, or pickled. Any scraps were fed to the chickens. Nothing was wasted.

One hundred years later my husband and I have tried to live a self-reliant lifestyle. He is an avid gardener and I am an avid canner. We made a good team especially when our children were growing up. What he didn’t grow, we bought from local orchards and farmers to can, freeze (an option that was only available during the winter months a century ago), and dehydrate. Since it is just the two of us now, we are trying to cut back on what we produce and preserve. My husband has a smallish garden spot tilled and is anxious to start planting. Too bad it snowed again last night.


A Cook’s Lament

“I can’t find anything to cook!” “I don’t know what to plan for meals at this time of year!” These are mutual complaints during this season wherever two or three farm housewives are gathered together. Now, while there is still time to plan for a kitchen garden is time to prevent this food famine from recurring next year.

Lay Out Your Garden

Vintage Seed Packets 1920

After the long winter months, we all crave crisp green food and these are the first seeds we sow—lettuce, radishes, onions. Then we plant for summer days. But all too often we do not, in laying out gardens, think in terms of the late winter and early spring weeks that inevitably come when “it is so hard to find anything to cook.”

Can, Dry and Brine Vegetables

In forecasting our gardens, we must keep three very definite things in mind: (1) we must plant for the summer season when we can practically live from the garden; (2) for the early winter when it is possible to have a pleasing variety from the root vegetables that have been stored in the cellar; (3) lastly, for the late winter months when stored vegetables have lost their crispness and flavor and it is still too early to have the fresh things. The easiest way to meet this third provision is to plant a surplus of summer vegetables which are to be canned or dried or brined for winter use. The women whose shelves are thus stocked are not among those who lift their voices in the wail, “I can’t find anything to cook!”


The above article was originally published in The Farmer’s Wife–A Magazine For Farm Women, February 1922, Page 745; Webb Publishing Company, St. Paul, Minnesota. Articles may be edited for length and clarity.

Hot Food for Rural School Children

A century ago parents had the same concerns for their children’s health and nutrition as parents of today. Printed in the October 1921 volume of The Farmer’s Wife – A Magazine for Farm Women is an article sharing a community’s success in providing a warm noon meal for their school children through the help and industry of the children themselves. The summer-long project involved students in gardening, canning, cooking and donating their produce to the warmth and well being of their fellows.

Neighborhood Activities

Stories Of Accomplishments By Rural Groups, Here, There And Everywhere

COMMUNITIES all over the country are appreciating more and more the need and value of some hot food for school children at noon. Many who have long since passed the school attendance age can look back and recall very vividly how unappetizing the cold lunch became after a few weeks of school and especially in the latter part of the winter. The cities have long since organized a system to provide this hot noon meal but in the rural districts the problem has been much more difficult and it was not until comparatively recently that any attempt was made to solve the problem.

It may be of interest to those who are working on this question to know how one community in Chester County, Pa., has organized to care for the health of the children in this way. Sconnelltown school is situated in the historic Brandywine country.

The children in this school have their own vegetable gardens in the summer. These gardens were very successful and some of the produce, corn, string beans and tomatoes, was contributed by the producers to the school. Eight of the school girls under the supervision of a progressive woman in the community canned these vegetables. As a result, they had at the end of the season, 36 quarts of beans, 59 quarts of tomatoes and 27 quarts of corn. This made a very nice supply with which to start the years. As lunches are served to 27 pupils each day, purchased cans will have to be added to the supply of tomatoes. Other supplies are provided by the Home and School League which meets in the school. This makes it possible for all pupils, whether they have any pennies to spend or not, to have the hot food. The older girls of the school prepare the food and serve it to the other children as they sit at their desks.

This organization serves many purposes. It stimulates interest in the school gardens and canning and gives a definite aim for both; it partially provides for the school lunches during the winter months; and it provides the nourishing hot food which is so much needed by so many of the pupils.

Many other schools in Chester County are doing similar work with the hot lunches but not all are as well organized as in this community. – Mary Palmer, Chester County, Pennsylvania

The above article was originally published in The Farmer’s Wife – A Magazine for Farm Women, 1 October 1921, page 566; Webb Publishing Company, St. Paul, Minnesota