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the Italians. Industry, patience, low cost of living, and the cooperation of the whole family, together with a faculty for living within any income, no matter how small, are the chief causes of the success of these colonists.
The entire farm is tilled; many Italians have cut down the shade trees planted during the early days of Vineland because they took up room and drew away nutriment from crops planted near them. For the same reason not much space is given to lawns or flower beds. The air of homelikeness, beauty, ease, and comfort is absent from most of their farm homes. They exist for production rather than enjoyable consumption. The necessary and economic rather than the aesthetic and comfortable are emphasized. One of the local real-estate men declared that few Italian farms are salable. He had listed a great number, but sold scarcely any. “They won't sell, because the houses are too cheap and too dirty inside; buyers don't want them,” he asserted.
Nearly every farmer in Vineland and vicinity has a few chickenssome have 300 or 400—which they sell as broilers. Some years ago, about 1885, a number of large poultry farms were started. A few were successful and several carry on an extensive business to-day. Some Italians tried it later, on a small scale, but there are no exclusively poultry farmers among them. Neither are there any dairymen. This is partly due to the scarcity of grass and partly to the disinclination of the Italian to engage in the industry. Almost every family keeps one cow, a great many have two or three. Owing to the lack of fences these animals are almost invariably tethered with long chains to graze.
The situation in regard to fences dates back to the founding of Vineland in 1861. Mr. Landis felt that the building of fences in a fruit region was a waste of land and an unnecessary expense, and that stock should be kept in rather than fenced out. This was a new, strange, and unwelcome doctrine to the native Jerseyman, whose wild cattle had been allowed to roam the woods at will. Many refused to keep their cattle within bounds despite the protests of the early settlers, and so annoying did the depredations become that a “bovine war" ensued in 1863. A cattle league was formed quietly and effectively to put an end to the roaming propensities of any invading bovine that found her way into the cleared fields of the new settlement. The swamps became the graveyard of many wandering cattle, and their owners protested in vain. Finally, in sheer fright lest their entire herds be exterminated, the cattlemen fenced in or disposed of their stock, and fences, except for ornament, have been almost unknown in Vineland to this day. In this respect, as in others, the Italians have followed the lead of the earlier American settlers.
There are a good many goats in certain localities. The goat is a reminiscence of Italy. Very little pork is sold, but each family has a pig or two, to be butchered at the beginning of the winter season. The Italians in Vineland are not great meat eaters, but all seem to consume a little salt pork. A horse or two-fairly good horses, but worked down rather thin, of no particular breed-completes the livestock list.
Not many good, well-kept top buggies, surreys, or road wagons are owned, but there are a few, and as money becomes easier and more plentiful the number increases. The farmer and his wife or children come into town on Saturday or go to church on Sunday in the covered market wagon or the light farm wagon, as a general rule. In this respect they are somewhat behind the American farmer.
Many of the Italian colonists who first settled planted shade treesmaple, chestnut, cedar, evergreens-or sometimes orchard trees along the road, and some set out trees in lieu of line fences; occasionally there is a hedge along the road or separating two fields. But later comers neglected to plant trees, and many of the earlier plantings have now been removed. While on the farms of native farmers hedges and shade trees are common, they are much more likely to be conspicuously absent from the Italian farmstead.
Table 13.-Classification of live stock.
Kind of live stock.
Number of farms reporting- Num- AverNumber
ber of age of farms
animals value reporting. Only 1. 2 or 3.
re4 to 6. 7 to 10.
per more. ported. head.
For many years the farm laborer has been an Italian. Thirty years ago there were some Irish and German laborers, but none of these are available at present. To-day all farmers depend on Italian hired help.
Few hands are hired by the year. A few are hired by the month for the season, but by far the larger number for general farm work are paid by the day, at a uniform wage of $1.25. This applies to all farm work except berry picking, which is invariably by the pint or quart. The workday is ten hours or a little less, and nearly all hired men are very tenacious of their rights in regard to the length of day, those who live near by utilizing the morning and evening hours to work on their own farms.
There are two main sources of supply—one local. The sons and daughters of neighboring farmers or the new arrivals themselves and their families are practically sufficient to supply the demand for all workers, with the exception of some berry pickers and a few potato harvesters. The demand is intermittent, of course, but the laborer can always find work on his own land when there is no outside employment, and there need be no unemployed.
To some extent pickers are imported from the neighboring towns or cities for the berry season. However, the local supply is aug- .
mented in several ways. Men, women, and children of all ages are employed. It is asserted that the greater number of growers manage to get along with their own families and a little help from their neighbors, or they work cooperatively, picking A's field one day and B's the next, since it is not necessary to pick every day, and this avoids small shipments and additional trips to the freight depot. Then, many children are just let out, or get out, of school in season for berry harvest. Another saving fact is that a number of factories in Millville and some in Vineland shut down to take a holiday for a short period. A shoe factory in Vineland, employing 150 Italians living in Vineland or vicinity, grants a holiday of a week or more beginning early in July.
Again, employers in all sorts of factories complain of a general exodus of Italian help during the picking season; girls, boys, men, and women in every line of work make an effort to get off to pick berries. On the whole, the local supply is very nearly sufficient to fill the demand.
Whatever the deficiency it is made up by importing pickers from Philadelphia or New York. These are all Italians, but frequently they are Sicilians or Calabrians that speak a dialect difficult for the local Italian farmer to understand. They come by families, bring all their supplies—food, bedding, stove, and baby carriage-put up in barns or two-story quarters provided by the farmer, and remain during the season if all is satisfactory.
They are secured in various ways. At first some padrone or agent supplied them in gangs of suitable size, charging the grower and the employed each 50 cents for the mutual service. The farmer met them at the station with a hay wagon and hauled the entire company and outfit to his farm. Frequently disputes of various sorts arose, concerning quarters, careless picking, failure to pick all ripe berries, filling the boxes with trash, etc., and continued supervision was necessary. To settle these disputes and to see that the work was well done the office of “row boss” was created. The row boss is an Italian, often a padrone, who comes with the company of pickers, looks after baggage, settles them in quarters, oversees the picking and sometimes receives the wages for the group, which he divides among them. The last service is not usual, however. For his work he receives $1.50 per day and a room for himself in the building provided for housing the gang. This official is not so commonly employed now as formerly, for the reason that the grower usually found it necessary to oversee the “row boss” who did very little work, and was able to exercise very little authority in his own right.
Many of the farmers have friends in the larger cities who aid them in securing pickers. One farmer secures 20 to 25 pickers—"a different gang every year”-in this way. Some growers get the same families, who return year after year, and in this way both escape the services of the padrone. All in all, the number of pickers secured from a distance is not great, although as noted above, many families of farmers, either new settlers or those with few berries of their own, engage themselves for the season.
They receive il cents a quart for picking blackberries, dewberries, and strawberries and 2 or 24 cents a quart for red or black raspberries, of which a very few are raised. Some earn very good wages, picking as many as 100 to 150 quarts or even more in a day, others
do not do so well. They are said to average better than American pickers, but the ripeness and size of the berries and the fullness of the bushes, as well as the weather conditions, are large factors in the quantity gathered daily.
They gather the berries into boxes, set in trays holding 8 quart boxes each. When the tray is filled it is returned to the berry house or bough-covered arbor, and the picker is given a check indicating the number of quarts he has picked. Each keeps his own checks and there is often great rivalry among the youngsters to secure the largest number during the day or season. The rivalry leads to “hogging" the bushes, leaving unpicked the smaller berries, putting in unripe fruit or “trash,” or even partially filling the boxes with gravel. The penalty, if caught, is docking or discharge.
The picking day begins with daylight and ends about 2 o'clock in the afternoon. After that the berries are loaded for shipment on the evening trains. Berries are commonly shipped in crates containing 32 quart boxes; raspberries in crates of 60 pints each. In the vicinity of Vineland few berries are picked on Saturday unless destined for the Boston or the Pittsburg market, where they arrive in time for sale Monday morning. There is some picking on Sunday in the height of the season, and holidays are not observed in the berry patch
Hoeing, tieing up or staking dewberries, digging or picking sweet potatoes, or any other harvesting of grapes, cranberries, white potatoes or truck can be performed by women as well as men, and the daily wage for this labor is about $1 for women and $1.25 for men, without board. A good many complain of the Italian as a laborer for others. He is said to be a time server, not indolent, but tricky, needs constant watching, and grumbles a good deal about his work and wages.
The food of the itinerant farm laborer is very simple; hard Italian bread, macaroni, peas or Italian beans, a few peppers or herbs and plenty of berries make up his dietary. There are several Italian bakeries in Vineland, but the incomers bring with them great bags of stale bread, peas, and macaroni. The fares of the local laborer and the farmer do not differ greatly.
MARKETS AND MARKETING FACILITIES.
Almost all produce except grapes and some sweet potatoes is sold on commission through local commission agents to firms in Philadelphia, Pittsburg, New York, Newark, and Boston. There are four or five of these men in Vineland, with headquarters at the two railway depots, the Pennsylvania lines and the Central of New Jersey. These agents consign produce to their regular principals, who make returns, less freight, 10 per cent commission and sometimes cartage and ferriage, to the shipper. The growers receive each day the closing market reports of the day previous from the principal market centers, upon which to base the destination of their shipments for the day. "Crates filled with empty boxes are furnished by the commission men at 16 cents each, really a rental, as the crates filled with new boxes may be returned by the commission men and rented several times. Commission men figure the actual cost of wear and ear per shipment on a crate at 7 cents; the 9 cents go to pay for the Perry boxes.
Bushel hampers for potatoes, peppers, and beans or Jeas are sold outright at 8 cents each.
All berries and most perishable stuff are sold on consignment, but grapes are sold to the grape-juice factory at a flat rate, and sweet potatoes, marketed all winter, are sold for cash to the local commission agents, if the farmers so desire it. There are very few local buyers and none who buy for storage.
The out-of-town berry buyers and commission agents such as are found by the dozen in Hammonton, who buy the berries outright at a flat rate per crate direct from the farmer's wagons are not seen in Vineland. The regular men have established themselves firmly, admit that they would fight any outside competitor, and hold things well in their own hands. There is some complaint of combination and more of unjust dealing in returning low prices for “damaged” shipments, but, in general, satisfactory conditions seem to prevail, except as noted below.
Up to the time of the Commission's inquiry there had been no strong cooperative selling or shipping association in which the Italian farmers were largely interested. In 1888, a Farmers' Alliance and Cooperative Fruit Growers' Union was reorganized. One of its purposes was the cooperative purchase of agricultural supplies. The members were allowed a rebate of 2 per cent on all produce shipped through a certain local commission man. Very few Italians were connected with it. About 1900 this organization went to pieces through internal dissensions, the membership being absorbed by the Grange.
In the spring of 1909, a farmers' canning company was incorporated with a capital stock of $30,000, in 3,000 shares, having a par value of $10 per share. In July, 1909, there were between 180 and 200 shareholders, holding 1,200 shares of stock, fully paid. Seventy-five to 80 per cent of the stock sold is held by Italian farmers; the directorate is almost entirely Italian, some of the best farmers holding stock in the corporation. The number of shares that may be held by individual members is not limited, but a salutary safeguard against concentration is found in the provision that each shareholder is entitled to but one vote.
The company owns a well-built, fairly well-equipped factory, fitted with modern machinery for canning strawberries, blackberries, tomatoes, and sweet potatoes. They have equipment also for making their own cans and packing cases, and a spur track for shunting in coal cars and loading shipments without any team haul.
The capacity of the factory is 20,000 cans of tomatoes daily, and about 70,000 gallon cans of berries during the season. In addition, large quantities of sweet potatoes may be handled. This season (1909) 4,000 crates of strawberries and perhaps 6,000 crates of blackberries, nearly all furnished by stockholders, will be put up. The contract price of strawberries was $1.30 and of blackberries $1.60 per crate. Owing to the unexpectedly low market price and the fact that contracts at from 80 cents to $1.20 per crate for strawberries had been made in other places near by, the stockholders voluntarily agreed to take less. Tomatoes have been bought by contract for $9 a ton.