Written by Frank Jeter, State College Extension Service Editor, and published in the Wilmington Morning Star, Jan. 15, 1945
Hard luck came to the Culpepper family of Kitty Hawk in Dare County when the tropical storm last September blew away their modest home. They should have been definitely discouraged and downcast. They should have called the Red Cross and other welfare organizations for help. But instead, the record shows that the father got busy and cleared away the debris as quickly as he could. Then he built a small home 14 feet by 18 feet in which to house his family. The next thing he did was to clear up a small garden plot about 20 feet square adjacent to the home. This plot of ground he turned over to his 13-year-old son, Horace, and the boy immediately planted collards, turnips, rutabagas, Hanover salad, and other fall vegetables. All the fall and into the winter the family ate greens from their own garden. They had plenty for themselves and some to share with neighbors who also had suffered from the storm. Only recently, Horace applied for a shipment of cork oak seedlings and will plant these about the family holdings with the idea that some day the seedlings will develop into mature trees producing badly needed cork bark.
But these cork oaks are another story. Right now we are concerned with the garden work done by this family. All of us should be interested because it seems that North Carolina citizens, both rural and urban, plan to plant fewer gardens in 1945. As a matter of fact, our record was not so good in 1944. Many townspeople found out that it takes some work to have a garden and they became discouraged when they found it hard to get a man and a mule to break the soil. They learned that gardening is not simply placing a few seed in the earth but that fertilizers or manure must be used; that the young vegetables much be cultivated; insects and diseases must be fought; and dry weather must be reckoned with. Then, too, when the vegetables finally were produced, they did not always have the perfect appearance that had been indicated by the color pictures in the seed catalogues. Added to this, the gardener found that ration points had been removed from many of the processed foods and these could be obtained from the grocery shelves. Either that or he could go to the nearby market and get all the fresh vegetables that he needed.
This may not be the situation in 1945. Fanatical Nazi-controlled Germans have been the cause of some somber news for us since Christmas day. We have become complacent over the progress of the war and perhaps now we shall have to tighten our belt a bit. War Mobilizer Jimmy Byrnes says that the last great reservoir of young, virile manpower is to be found on the farms and that these young men are needed in the ranks of the armed forces. It does not matter how much food these boys are producing, how many cows they are milking or how many chickens they are feeding—the Army needs them, and only the old folks, the man and his wife, will remain on the home farm. These folks can do just so much and they must cut the garment to fit the cloth. Vegetables require a great amount of hand labor and if this hand labor is not available, they cannot be grown and harvested. This means that the man on the land will grow enough for his own needs first and then do what he can towards feeing his fellow citizens in towns and cities.
But then again, the needs of the armed forces come first. Just as trucks loaded with poultry have been commandeered in the eastern markets in the past few weeks, just as the army may have to divert truck and car loads of fresh vegetables from the commercially producing areas into the warehouses of the Service of Supply, men in the Army eat more than men in the office. War is a hearty eater and while soldiers and sailors require more food than civilians we must never forget that those who work in munition factories forging the implements of war also must be fed. ….
All these things but emphasize the great need for as much food as possible to be produced at home. More gardens are needed in towns and among sharecroppers and tenants, particularly in the tobacco-growing areas.
How long this will continue, no one knows; but certainly it is only patriotic for every citizen with a suitable plot of land to grow as much of his food supply as possible. He must never forget that food is ammunition.
“War mobilizer Jimmy Byrnes” is South Carolinian James Byrnes, who left the Supreme Court to head the Economic Stabilization Office and Office of War Mobilization during World War II. Byrnes was in the House of Representatives and the Senate before being appointed to the Supreme Court. President Truman made Byrnes Secretary of State in 1945. In 1951, Byrnes was elected Governor of South Carolina.