Girls Solve Labor Problems in Gardens

GIRLS SOLVE LABOR PROBLEMS IN GARDENS 2-24-1918 Tribune

Replace Men at Davis Establishment In Producing Vegetables-Like the Work Too

By Nora Ball Ragsdale

Look at ‘em! Forty-five happy girls doing duty at the Davis garden.

At first suggestion that girls be substituted for boys, the management shook its head in a “Nev-er” fashion: when it was brought up a second time, the shake was not quite so positive: and at last there was only a bit of reluctance owing to the doubtfulness of the scheme, but it was allowed to go through. And now O.K. Owen, the manager, wouldn’t trade the help of the bloomer overall-ed girls for all of the boys.

“They are most satisfactory and very reliable” he said.

Superintendent W.G. Phinney cannot laud the work of the young women enough. “They are better than boys in any one of a dozen ways” he declared.

War made the opportunity for girls at the local gardens, boys having been called to other duties. And now the girls now spend their time packing green-house products: cucumbers, tomatoes and mushrooms: trimming dead leaves from the twelve-foot vines, sprinkling the growing plants with the hose; transplanting: tying up plants with raffia, and any other similar duties throughout the plant. On a visit through the greenhouses, one frequently sees a girl at the top of a tall ladder trimming trees: another may be working in the rich earth, or doing any other thing requiring her attention. They sing as they work, quite happily. Some whistle. But they don’t destroy the plants. They don’t break the glass in the roof or sides of the building by throwing it at each other and there are a thousand things they don’t do that it has seemed impossible for a boy not to do.

Greenhouse duties are pleasant ones. It is so comfortably warm in the houses of the Davis gardens that the only exposure to cold the girls experienced during the past winter was the coming and going to and from work. Working with growing things is to most people very fascinating. Under favorable conditions, it is even more so.

On a visit to the gardens Saturday, I saw bees extracting the tiny bits of honey from yellow cucumber blossoms. In each of the ten houses, there is a hive. It gave a complete summer atmosphere to the place, and as if in emphasis of this, the chirping of a dozen crickets was borne to my ears. “It’s summer all the time for the bees” Mr. Phinney said “They work indoors all winter and when warm weather comes- weather when the gardens are taking a rest- we turn them out in the warm sun and they just keep working.”

But about the girls:

“Do you pay the girls as much as you did the boys?” I asked, being an equal rights activist.

“Just the same” was the reply “and their work is twice as satisfactory.”