By Clyde Davis, Secretary of the Sandhill Board of Trade, Aberdeen, N.C., published in the January 1916 issue of The Southern Planter
Our Community Conferences for the discussion of such topics as fruit, cattle, cotton, corn, legumes, etc., have proved valuable. As in everything else, someone must take the lead. A meeting is called at some hall, school house or other suitable building. All are invited to come and bring a basket dinner. Before dinner, we try to have some amusement, such as singing, reciting, or boating.
After dinner is eaten, the ones who are interested in the discussion gather in the building. The chairman questions those of our community who are best fitted to answer, such as a lawyer questions a witness. For example, if the meeting is on peach culture, post card would be sent to our best peach men, asking them to be present and to answer questions about their methods. Few people can make a speech, but anyone can answer questions. Each one is put through the same line of questions, and the object is to find out what points they agree on and what they disagree on.
A secretary takes notes on what each says, and after the meeting he prepares a summary for the local papers. Of course the papers are delighted to have this to publish. Thus, we gather the knowledge that our people have gained by experience and by filing the reports of these meetings, we make valuable records.
The women attend the meetings. Sometimes they prefer to have a separate meeting to discuss house problems and sometimes they do not. It is a mistake to try to hold these meetings when the farmers are busy in their fields, just as it is unwise for the preachers to hold revivals at such seasons.
Another point in favor of these meetings is that the preacher, the banker, the merchant, and all the rest who should understand the community’s problems attend.