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The Advantages of Farm Life (1909)

By N. A. Murray, Instructor of Agriculture,
Princess Ann Academy, Md.

One does not often hear, except in a casual way, of the advantages of farm life as they offer themselves to the young American, who is willing to live in a rural settlement. What one does hear more frequently and with especial emphasis is its possible disadvantages.

All over the country to-day there seems to be an awakening to the necessity of a special training of our boys and girls in the agricultural courses; and why should we not as representatives of a rising people join in the movement that has the backing of the Federal government and of many states.

As an environment for the proper moral and physical development of our boys and girls who are aspiring to leadership, no better natural opportunity can be found than on the farm, which affords such excellent chances to develop strong, healthy and useful citizens.

This item, and others like it, can be found in Accessible Archive’s African American Newspapers Collection. This enormous collection of African American newspapers contains a wealth of information about cultural life and history during the 1800s and is rich with first-hand reports of the major events and issues of the day.
The influences of city life are of so low a character that we do not wonder at finding so many moral cowards and habitual drunkards among our men and women. Examples of such moral decay can be found in any of our large cities; but do we find such an atmosphere of vice to influence the lives of our youth in the country? Two or three examples may be pointed out wherein individuals have gone astray; but in the large majority of cases the spirit of Christianity, of self respect and self help are so dominant that the country lass and lad find very little time for indulgence in pleasures which tend to degrade. Their time is too much occupied in profitable work to go far astray.

We often hear the question asked, what is there in farm life besides the natural surroundings? One does not need to go far to see the broadening influence of such a life in the development of strong men and women. Our high schools, universities and colleges are full of farm boys and girls who with their strong well developed muscular bodies are so far ahead of their city classmates that a comparison would be ridiculous. Having to breathe the foul air continually as a result of sleeping in hot, stuffy, poorly ventilated rooms; excessive toil over books indoors with little time for recreation; staying up late at night and indulging in injurious pleasures far into the morning hours; continual indulgence in the nerve destroying drink; do we still wonder that our hospitals, insane asylums, sanitariums, and charity institutions are so full of puny, broken down, enervated, and consumptive men and women from the town.

How is it on the other hand with the life of the farm boys and girls? Do such tendencies ever enter into their lives to lead them to sure ruin? The very nature of the work on the farm; the exercise of the muscles, the constant inhalation of pure fresh air every day, the drinking of pure, clean, sparkling water uncontaminated with the injurious bacteria; the eating of pure wholesome food to satisfy the demands of the system for energy; make it possible for the country youths to enjoy these and many other benefits which nature gives with a glad and generous hand.

Another question we often hear asked is, Why is that country students here in the Academy and in many of our large universities and colleges who have had limited opportunities for learning, are able to compete with and in many cases to surpass in all round scholarship their better prepared city classmate who has the best educational systems that money and skill can furnish? If we look back a little and survey the early life of each, we will find that the conscious and unconscious training of the hand, eye, and mind, whether at work or at play has developed in the farm boy and girl greater power of initiative which coordinated with his superior moral and physical capacity enables him or her to do naturally what their city classmates must acquire through years of hard and persevering work.

Of all the inducements which farm life has to offer, none are worth more to a man in his struggle for existence than the ability to hold up his head in the world and live independent of other people. Farm statistics from the study of farm economics tells us that it is possible to support a family of eight people on a yearly income of of $500 00 with eighteen acres of land to cultivate. On the other hand with the present price of food products in our large cities an annual income of $1000.00 would barely support a family of five persons.

How is it that a farmer is able to reduce his living expenses to one half those of his city brother? The mere fact that he is able to grow his own vegetables, grind his own grain for flour and meal, grow his own fruit, raise his own cows to furnish him with milk, cream, butter and cheese; poultry to furnish him with eggs and meat; hogs to furnish him with lard and pork; sheep to furnish him with wool and meat; plenty of wood always nearby to furnish him with fuel, and his willingness to give his own time, labor and money for these things, make it possible for the farmer to live a life of good cheer, good health and to promote happy and congenial family relations.

Source: The Negro Business League Herald, May 15, 1909

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