“Whenever I get discouraged about the energy of foresight of our farm people, I like to think about Mr. and Mrs. Clifton Fuller of Vance County. Mrs. Fuller told me recently about how she and her husband managed to make ends meet and save some money on a fifty-acre farm. They were married eleven years ago and have always grown cotton and tobacco. For the first three years, they operated a tenant farm and then bought the 50 acre place on which they now live. This was not given to them, neither did they inherit any part of it. They bought it with their own money, paying $1,000 down in cash and the balance in yearly payments.
“Like most cotton and tobacco farmers, they had money only once a year. After paying their debts, they banked this money and drew on it as was needed for farm and household expenses, but they had to spread this money out mighty thinly to make it last until another banking time. So Mrs. Fuller began to think about the home demonstration curb market which had been established by Mrs. Hattie Plummer in Henderson. The Fullers loaded their car one day with the things which they thought would sell on this market. This included fresh vegetables from the garden, some fruit from the orchard, eggs, chickens, buttermilk and butter. Mrs. Fuller knew little about grading her produce but she was wise enough to select only the best looking stuff she had and to prepare it nicely. Anyway, that first day at the market was an eye-opener. It was a success. So much so that the Fullers have missed few market days in the past three years.
“Mrs. Fuller is an observant woman. She saw that those things that sold best that were best prepared. In other words, a bunch of turnips scrubbed clean with fresh, pure water and tied nicely sold much more quickly than a mess of dispirited-looking, wilted turnips pulled the day before. Fresh firm butter right from the well house and wrapped with clean paper or cloth sold more quickly than other kinds. The same was true of chickens. A few peaches, graded to one size and free of all blemish or rot sold more easily than did a nondescript collection dumped into a dirty basket. Mrs. Fuller noted this and she and Mr. Fuller began to take only first class products to the market. She also tried to take those things that were in demand. Better than all this, she guaranteed everything that she sold. “If it is not satisfactory,” she told her customers, “I will be back here next market day and I will make it good.”
“Since she has been selling her surplus produce in this way, her sales have amounted to between $800 and $1,000 a year. Not only do the Fullers have this extra cash, but because they grow the things for market, they also have a better balanced menu on the home table. Right now, they are letting the sales from these surplus products take care of the running expenses of the place. What money is received from the cotton and tobacco crops is put into the bank and kept them in the form of savings.
“And here is what happened—two years ago the Fullers built a nine-room brick house on their little farm. They did not go into debt for one single item in building the home. That same winter, Mr. Fuller developed pneumonia from overexposure and one would expect of overwork. It was necessary to send him to the hospital for eleven days. This, added to the expense of the doctors and the loss from work, was a severe test on the Fuller’s cash account. But they paid in cash, and there was no complaint. How many city folks can do any better than that, if as well?
“The Fullers have only a small farm. They plant a one-horse crop and with the help of a Negro laborer, do all the work themselves. The husband grows the vegetables, helps to prepare them for market and loads them into the car. Mrs. Fuller does the marketing. With the money they have made under this cooperative plan, they have furnished their new home very comfortably.
“We have electric lights, running water, a radio, an electric refrigerator and iron,” Mrs. Fuller says, “We expect to buy a washing machine and other electrical equipment next season.”
“And all of this comes from 50 acres of land intelligently farmed and more intelligently planned. Folks like these Fullers are the cream of the earth and the future home of North Carolina.”
This article, written by Extension Editor Frank Jeter of State College, now N.C. State University, was published in the Marshville Home newspaper on Dec. 15, 1937. The newspaper, now known as the Marshville Home News, was begun in 1892.