Horticulture and Agricultural Education in Florida.

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Horticulture and Agricultural Education in Florida.
Series Title:
Writings and Speeches 1891-1920
Rolfs, Peter Henry
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Articles, Speeches and Other Writings
Horticulture and Agricultural Education in Florida.


Subjects / Keywords:
Agricultural extension work -- Florida.
Agriculture -- Florida -- Experimentation.
Agriculture -- Study and teaching -- Florida.
Agricultural Experiment Station.
Florida Cooperative Extension Service.
University of Florida.
University of Florida. Herbarium.
Rolfs, Peter Henry


An address by P. H. Rolfs about horticultural and agricultural education in Florida

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Peter Henry Rolfs
University Archives


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Horticultural and Agricultural Education in Florida

Prof. P. H. Rolfs.

Mr. President. Ladies and Gentlemen:
Once in a while. we like to take a gen-
eral surl\e ; to get on the housetop, as it
were,. and look around over the country
and see what is to be seen. \Ve want to
spend a few minutes this morning in this
kind of general survey, then we will get
down to details and study the details more
closely than this paper deals with them.

Our present system of education had
its origin in an aristocratic form of gov-
ernment. It, therefore, partook much of
the form of go\ver nnment under which it
w'as fostered. In an aristocratic govern-
ment it matter d not how many toiled in-
cessantly, so long as the chosen few were
Spriv ileged to follow the bent of 'their own
inclinations to the fullest extent. Under
such a form of government, a few ex-
tremely talented ind.lividuals arose, espec-
ially alon. thjse lines rof st uldy that did not
displease the rulers. The great masses of
.w,. humanity'. however, were ni.t thought
wortlhy of attention. It was really con-
..,, sidered clangeruui for them to obtain the
-rudiments of an education. The very
fotindations .of a democracy rest on the
assumption that each one of the electorate
body has at least a rea-o,nable understand-

ing of those questions of government
necessary to the fullest development of
the individuals who make up the democ-
Our own government is only a limited
democracy, and in some of the "machiine-
ridden" districts it is extremely limited.
We are, in fact, to a large extent, govern-
ed by an office-holding oligarchy. which
differs from a monarchy only in that the
electorate may at irregular intervals re-
move the reigning oligarch, and replace
him by another. These condi:lti:ons; will
continue to exist as long as the electorate
body remains incapable of knowing its
needs and expressing them at the polls.
Great holdings of property are not, to my
mind, incompatible with a perfect democ-
racy; nor are great variations in intellec-
tual attainments antagonistic to a democ-
racy. But it is impossible for a pure
democracy to exist unsullied unless
the majority of the electorate
is capable of understanding and
voting intelligently on both local
and national questions. As long as we
have an uneducated electorate, either one
"boss" or another will rule; but, as the
electorate becomes more educated, the
boss retreats, and finally quits the field.
Our own government has given us a
striking illustration of how an almost
perfect organization may be perverted to


selfish ends. But, by the education of the
masses, first one redoubt and then anoth-
er has been taken from the office-holding
aristocracy. Formerly, the electorate was
not allowed the right to select the Pres-
ident of the United States, but now this
is practically conceded, although the con-
stitution of the United States reserves
the right to an electoral college, and we
still go through the empty form of voting
for the members of this electoral college.
In many of our States, the U. S. Sena-
tors are voted for in the primaries or at
the general election, and the State Leg-
islatures then go through the form of
electing these Senators.


The difficulty of education is a deeper
one than mere dollars and cents. You
can't drive 'an American-some can be
bought, but many more may be led. Our
ideals, however, are toward a democracy.
Naturally, we should say that since the
rural population is unable to send its
children to school, then by increasing the
earning capacity of the rural adult, the
difficulty will be removed, and all of our
children will be put into the schools. Let
us examine the public school statistics of
a State in which the earning capacity of
the average adult is sufficient for compar-
ative ease, and where children 'are not
permitted to labor in factories. Massa-
chusetts will furnish us with a good illus-
In Massachusetts, according to the
69th census, there were:
513,000 children of school age;
498,000 children attending school;

404,000, or 78 per cent., in average
45,000, or 8 per cent., attending high
school (about one-fourth of those that
should be there).
These figures show us that the difficulty
is a fundamental one, and not a practical
one (the want of wealth).
In the whole United States, only 13
per cent. of our school population have
reached the last grade in the high school,
or a little more than a third of those that
should be there.
The absence of wealth is a potent fac-
tor for non-attendance on schools, but it
is not the fundamental difficulty. This
difficulty lies in the fact that our present
school curriculum is faulty. We are not
educating for the efficiency of the indi-
vidual. The whole common school course,
beginning in the primary grades, through
the grammar school, and especially in the
high school, educates the individual for
professional life, which comprises only 3
per cent. of our population. To the
other 97 per cent. of our population the
studies 'are purely non-vocational.
Think of it, ladies and gentlemen; 97
per cent. of our people (including 44 per
cent. rural population) are required to
accept 'a purely non-vocational course,, or
none at all, simply that 3 per cent may be
fitted for their vocation. It is really a
compliment to our present system that so
large a percentage of our children are
'taking the studies in the higher grades at
all. Our present graded and high schools
have shaped their courses in such a way
as to enable their graduates to enter a
college or university without examina-
tion. They are given a direct through




ticket, on a limited express train, which
S makes no stops at flag or way stations;
while the through passengers number on-
ly one-tenth of one per cent. of the whole.
We have built splendid terminal facilities,
but those who wish to stop at way sta-
tions have to roll off like chunks of coal
from a flat-car. In other words our pres-
ent curriculum forces the teachers to
bend all their energies toward making
college or university candidates; while
their efforts toward making common men
and women, the great mass of our popu-
lation, have to be purely incidental. Our
present grammar and high schools are
fashioned after the old academy, whose
legitimate successor they can in no wise
claim to be. (In passing, I may be per-
mitted to say that our University has
broadened its course during the last five
years, so as to include instruction along
the vocational lines that include about
three-fourths of our population. It will
take time, however, for the graded
schools to fit boys for entering the Uni-
versity. )

It is not so many years ago that all ed-
ucation, science, and other advancement
of the human race were circumscribed
and localized in more or less restricted
communities. Some communities ad-
vanced far ahead of their times along cer-
tain lines. As an illustration of this, we
have the civilization of Greece, which had
* its philosophers, poets, and to some extent
scientists, before the Christian era. Much
of the good work was lost by the subse-
quent subjugation of these people. The
great valley of the Euphrates, and the

valley of the Nile, and other places may
be called to mind where engineering
feats of wonderful proportions were car-
ried on six to ten thousand years ago,
the results of which are still apparent. In
later times, however, the science and the
art of this work were completely lost. It
has been only in recent centuries that the
science of engineering has again reached
the height attained by these old and al-
most prehistoric nations. So long as
these communities or nations remained
isolated, they were able to develop along
certain lines, frequently to the neglect of
all other lines of education and upbuild-
ing. Their advance only lasted until the
opportune time came for a more barba-
rous or more fierce and warlike nation
to conquer them and destroy utterly their
literature and their art. A striking and
very similar illustration may be taken
from America. The great pyramids
erected by the Aztecs to the sun and the
moon, are still wonders of the continent.
These Aztecs had a high civilization, and
must have also developed in science to a
high grade, from the fact that they have
shown an accurate knowledge of engin-
eering work, and an accurate knowledge
of the calendar as we know it today.
Their literature, science and agriculture
was swept away by the Spanish conquer-
ors. The Aztecs themselves were sub-
jugated and compelled to become servants
of an alien race whose civilization, sci-
ence, and literature, they were forced to
adopt, whether it suited them or not.
At the present time we are living in
an age when time in the past is practical-
ly annihilated, making it possible by
means of books for us in a single hour


to traverse the whole vast extent of time
from the beginning of recorded data to
the present. The telephone and tele-
graph are annihilating distance. By means
of the telegraph, we are today closer to
the Philippine Islands and more inti-
mately connected with them than we
were seventy-five years ago with New
York or Chicago.

We are likewise much more affected
both morally and financially by what is
done even in remote parts of the earth,
than ever before. To be a successful
cabbage grower in Florida, the horticul-
turist must know the extent of the Nova
Scotia crop, the extent of the Danish
crop, and the extent of the German crop,
and of course must have full information
as to the extent of the cabbage product
of the whole United States. This is one
illustration of the many that might be
We are today vitally affected in citrus
growing by the output from distant
parts of the world. We look upon Cali-
fornia as our competitor, and one with
whom we have to reckon. Too many
of us, however, forget that Arizona, Mex-
ico, Texas, Jamaica, Porto Rico, and the
Mediterranean region are also competi-
tors. While we have developed the art
of producing citrus fruit to such an ex-
tent that, with the aid of the tariff, we
need not fear the introduction of fruit
from the Mediterranean growers, we
still find them competitors when we wish
to ship fruit to Europe, to Canada, or to
other places outside the United States.
I might mention that our nursery men are

finding Japanese nurseries competing se-
riously for the market of citrus trees.
As pineapple growers in Florida, we
consider Cuba and Porto Rico as our
strong competitors, and think of them as
being alone in the field. This, however,
is not entirely correct. Hawaii ships a
large amount of fruit to the Pacific Coast
States. The Malayan Peninsula com-
petes strenuously for the market in
canned pineapples. Yet the Malayan
Peninsula is located on the other side of
the world.
The Florida potato grower must take
into consideration the crop that is produced
in practically all of the United States,
and Europe, and the competition of Ber-
muda. Nearly ten years ago the over-
production of the crop for the fancy mar-
ket resulted in two very bad years for
the Florida potato growers. Since that
time the demand has grown rapidly, and
now it appears as though it would be al-
most impossible to produce enough po-
tatoes to satisfy the market. But this is
only apparent, since the production of
only a few carloads more than the mar-
ket will quickly absorb would result in a
serious slump of prices. I found, for ex-
ample, that the Hastings market was
around $3.00 f. o. b. per barrel, and the
Chicago market was 25 cents per bushel.
The Chicago buyers were buying Flori-
da potatoes because they had a fancy
market. I might illustrate with the avo-
cado crop. We can sell a certain amount
of avocados in the market at quite a
fancy figure. It really does not make
much difference what we charge. The
higher the price the more people seem to
be anxious to get them, but if we have



half a crate more than the market de-
S mands, that extra half crate will not
bring ten cents. As it is, we have learn-
ed not to over supply the avocado mar-
ket, but keep the supply just even with
the demand.
The younger generation of us will have
to compete strenuously with the fruit out-
put of South America and Africa. Al-
ready these countries are sending their
product into the markets of Europe, and
thereby curtailing the source of consump-
tion for our products. The United States
has already seriously felt the inroads in
the European market made by the Aus-
tralian meats and other animal products.
Argentina now stands second in the acre-
age of corn. The report for 1908 gives
her nearly seven million 'acres. Capital
from the United States is flowing in a
torrent into Mexico. A few years ago the
United States consul at Mexico City told
me that there was upwards of $500,000,-
ooo of United States capital invested in
Mexico. Most of this, however, was go-
ing to develop the mines, though agricul-
ture was following rapidly in the amount
of United States capital that was being
absorbed. Large areas in Mexico have
been and are being planted to citrus fruits.
By tariff legislation it may be possible to
keep these fruits out of the markets of
the United States, but such an artificial
barrier cannot'keep them from going into
Canada and other places where our
fruits now find a good market. In cer-
. tain sections of Central America large
areas are being planted to citrus orchards,
and it is purely a question of developing
transportation facilities to bring these in-
to active competition with our fruits.

The transportation facilities are being
rapidly developed, and will be greatly
stimulated as the time for the opening of
the Panama canal approaches. (Of
course we raise a superior article, but to
millions of consumers an orange is an or-
ange and nothing more.)
All of this brings us face to face with
the fact that we are only a small part of
the world movement. A moment ago I
called your attention to the fact that in
the past these upward movements took
place in isolated centers. By means of
our literature we have annihilated the
past, and by means of electricity we are
annihilating distance. Now, in the place
of progressive movement being localized,
it is present in all nations. Even static
Turkey and Persia are being affected by
the educational movement of today. The
leaders in scientific thought today must
know what the results are of the investi-
gations in other laboratories, whether lo-
cated at Ceylon, Tokyo, San Francisco,
Chicago, New York, Edinburgh, Berlin,
St. Petersburg, or any other place on the
globe. Should Dr Koch make an impor-
tant discovery in connection with the
sleeping sickness of interior Africa, on
the next day all the newspapers around
the earth would announce the fact. While
the earth is no smaller than it was ten
thousand years ago, man's power over
matter has increased so immeasurably
that he is in reality brought into daily
and almost hourly connection with even
the remotest portions of the world.
At first it might seem as though this
was a long distance from citrus growing.
To understand our present situation,
however, it is of the highest importance


for us to understand the world move-
ments. We are in such immediate com-
munication with all of our competitors,
and our competitors are in so close touch
with us, that unless we understand the
whole situation and take advantage of
the opportunities as they occur, we shall
be hopelessly outclassed in the competi-
tion. The serious question with us to-
day is, what are we doing and are we
doing all we can to better our conditions,
to increase our power of producing crops
and to reduce the cost of production of
the same. We all know that the cost of
production has increased greatly in the
last fifteen years. Fertilizers have in-
creased in cost, labor nearly doubled in
price, transportation has been but slight-
ly reduced, and the purchasing power of
the money we receive in return for our
products has decreased nearly 50 per
cent. We are in a decade of high prices
but cheap money.
We are now face to face with a situa-
tion that demands the most earnest and
energetic study of our problems, both
from a technical and a practical stand-

Florida was the first place in what are
now the United States to receive colo-
nists from Europe. For various reasons
that need not be enumerated at this time,
the development of Florida has been ex-
tremely slow. At the present time our
area is probably the most sparsely set-
tled of any State east of the Mississippi.
Various causes have contributed to bring
this about. We are now, however, re-
ceiving immigrants from almost all parts

of the United States, the main reason for
this being the fact that good, available
farm lands in other parts of the United
States have been practically all taken up.
The last West has been conquered. Con-
sequently the pioneers who have no more
West in which to locate, must turn in an-
other direction to secure cheap and suit-
able lands. A large number of the peo-
ple from the overcrowded sections of the
Middle West and West, are pouring into
the immense unsettled portions of the
Northwest Territory of Canada. Enough
of our citizens have already moved across
the border to make a population equal to
that contained in Florida. In other
words, the United States has already con-
tributed at least one State to the develop-
ment of Canada. Many of our citizens
are not satisfied, however, to leave the
protection of the flag under which they
were born and raised, but prefer to seek
employment and a livelihood even in far-
off Florida, which has been represented
to them as a place where it is almost im-
possible to live. This movement and un-
rest has its basis in some fundamental
condition. The fundamental condition
that is confronting these people is the
same one that we have to meet here. The
population of the United States is now
increasing at the rate of a million a year.
At first thought this would appear to be
very encouraging, since it means a mil-
lion people more every year to eat or-
anges; but oranges are not absolute ne-
cessities, and bread comes first. With
this more fierce struggle for subsistence
comes a corresponding decrease in oppor-
tunity for buying those things that are
absolutely necessary.



* We are vitally interested today in
knowing what factors are at work for the
improvement of Florida conditions. We
must improve our conditions, or be left
far behind in this world-wide movement.
If our methods of handling our citrus
groves are not better next year than they
are this year, we will find ourselves hope-
lessly outclassed by this severe and se-
rious competition. In our democratic
form of government, we cannot expect
a dictator to arise and drive us forward
to proper handling and to proper thinking.
The upward movement must be through
the upward movement of at least a large
proportion of the agricultural people. Our
leaders may legislate and prescribe laws
for our guidance, but unless these laws
receive an intelligent support, they will be
practically dead letters on the statute
books. This may be strikingly illustrated
by the laws on our statute books pertain-
ing to the organization of a county hor-
ticultural commission. These commis-
sions when properly organized have 'all
the power necessary to carry out any rea-
sonable line of work in any county. Yet
so far as we know, not a single county
has taken effective advantage of this law.


Some lines of work are being carried
out which will in time give us much bet-
ter agricultural and horticultural condi-
tions in the State. One of these move-
ments is the teaching of the basic princi-
ples of agriculture and horticulture in all
the rural schools of the State. Naturally,
the introduction of agriculture has met
with the same opposition that the intro-

duction of grammar and physiology met
with in our common school curriculum.
It is no more likely that the teaching of
agriculture from an elementary text-book
in the country school will make a trained
agriculturist, than that the teaching of
grammar in the country school would
produce a finished poet or prose writer, or
that the teaching of physiology in country
schools would produce an accomplished
family physician. The teaching of the
grammar has, however, added immense-
ly to the accuracy of speaking and writ-
ing English; and the study df physiology
has done much 'toward preserving health
and discounting quackery.


Institutes for young people have been
held in a number of the counties of the
State this year. This brings practical
farming education to the youth who will
soon be the bread earner. To enumerate
all of these would require more time than
would seem practicable in a short speech
today. In Alachua county, as an illustra-
tion, we held to March 26th, 14 of these
institutes, with a total 'attendance of 955
persons. (Since the above summary was
made, several more institutes have been
held, carrying the total number over a,
thousand.) Of this 955 above mentioned,
626 were school pupils, 189 were men,
and 140 women. This shows a lively in-
terest in agricultural education in the
State. Not only do the young people at-
tend, but interest in the work is aroused
among the older people. At these insti-
tutes the lectures of the day were intro-
ductory to Ithe final object. The object
of the lecturers was to instruct the pupils



in agricultural work and at the same time
distribute packages of selected seed corn.
This corn was intended for planting by
the pupils, and in the fall contests for the
best corn produced will be held, and later
there will be a contest in corn judging.

The Farmers' Institute work during
the present fiscal year has been carried on
rather more vigorously than in any pre-
vious year. Up to May 8, we had held
114 sessions, scattered from Pensacola
,on the west, to Miami on the south. We
have not visited every county in the State,
from the fact that certain counties are
more wide awake than others, and as a
rule, those which make their wants known
,are the ones which are likely to have
them supplied. The total attendance on
these institutes will run somewhere in the
neighborhood of seven thousand. In this
connection I may say that the farmers of
the State are probably more active and
more insistent than the fruit growers.
The citrus section which was formerly
the progressive section has now become
conservative and the farming section pro-

County fairs are being held in many
different counties of the State. They are
not always known under the name of
fairs, though in substance they amount to
the same thing. Santa Rosa, Walton,
Washington, Holmes, Jackson, Gadsden,
Leon, Jefferson, Madison, Suwanee, Ma-
rion, Polk and Dade are all confidently
looking forward to an exhibition of ag-
ricultural and horticultural products next

fall and winter. A number of these coun-
ties held fairs last year, and in almost all
cases the institution was a financial suc-
cess. From an educational standpoint
they were much more successful, how-
ever, than from a financial standpoint. The
total attendance upon these institutions
would 'amount to hundreds of thousands.
These gatherings are very important
from the fact that they bring the city
more closely in touch with the country.

During November of this year will be
held the interstate fair at Pensacola. A
dozen or fourteen counties of Florida
and Alabama will be represented. At
the interstate fair there will be offered a
silver cup trophy for the corn-judging
contest and other prizes of magnitude.

The county and State fairs are potent
factors in the upbuilding of the agricul-
tural and horticultural interests of the
State. They come more, however, as an
expression of the existing conditions
than as a direct effort toward the formu-
lation and carrying forward of definite
ideals. This work of leadership and pre-
senting of ideals is to a large extent the
mission of the University of Florida.
Necessarily this institution, since it be-
longs to the people, must adapt itself to
the conditions as they are found. It would
be a practical folly to attempt to copy or
model our institution after that existing
in any other State whose conditions were
entirely different from those found in
Florida. Consequently, this institution
must blaze its own way. While the ex-


perience in other states will be of much
S service, it can only be used in the way of

To carry out the ideals of progressive
educational work, the University has of-
fered a course of agriculture by corre-
spondence. This has proven to be ex-
tremely popular. Last year the regis-
tration in the course was over 400. This
year the registration is about 600, and
nine different courses were offered in
place of the one that was offered last
year. It is intended to continue to of-
fer these correspondence courses.

As an expression of the fact that the
institution is attempting to meet the needs
of the State, we may cite the case of the
Citrus Seminar. This gathering was
held, not with a view of giving informa-
tion of an elementary character in con-
nection with citrus culture, but to pre-
sent the latest scientific discoveries in
connection with this great industry. As
the name indicates, no attempt was made
to make this Citrus Seminar in any way
a formal matter. The lectures were de-
livered in an informal way, and constant
questions and interruptions were invited.
The speakers for the most part were from
the experiment station staff. The citrus
growers themselves, however, aided very
greatly in making the effort a thorough
S success, in that certain of them volun-
teered to give short talks on specific sub-
jects about which they knew probably
more than anyone else. The character of
the work of the Seminar was such as

would have made it of little value to one
who was not thoroughly versed in prac-
tical citrus culture. The average at-
tendance on the meetings was 34.7 per
session. Twenty-eight persons directly
interested in citrus growing in Florida at-
tended the meetings.


The conditions under which we find
ourselves existing today are very differ-
ent from those that have been experi-
enced heretofore. We are in the midst
of a world wide movement,-educational,
financial, scientific, and political. If its ef-
fects are worldwide, competition is like-
wise worldwide. Our sources of infor-
mation are not limited only by the climate
in which citrus fruits will grow. We
must know what is happening in every
land, not only of the citrus-growing re-
gions, but of the agricultural regions as
well. We are more and more interde-
pendent than ever before. As our prob-
lems of production are being solved, our
problems of distribution become more
severe. Your attention has already been
called to the fact that the prices received
for our fruit at the present time are not
as great as they were fifteen years ago,
and yet the purchasing power of the dol-
lar which we receive for our fruit has
fallen very materially. It therefore be-
comes more and more necessary to cur-
tail the expenses of production, to insure
perfect and prompt delivery, and in every
manner possible provide for a saving of
the waste product. Every tree in the
grove must be made to do its full share
of work, and all deadbeats ruthlessly de-
stroyed. We must by earnest study learn


to take advantage of every particle of
useful information that can be obtained.
We are here this week to test theories;
and if they are not in accord with fact, to
have them brushed ruthlessly away as
chaff. We are here to be helpful to one
another, that we may be the better able
to see our own way clearly.

Prof. Hume: I believe I voice the sen-
timent of those who are best informed
in the matter when I say that never in
the history of the State has there been a
time when the Experiment Station of the
University is so nearly filling the place
that it should fill in the State. This Cit-

rus Seminar was one of the most inter-
esting meetings I have ever seen in the
State of Florida, and while I do not
know that it is the intention to make it
an annual affair, I sincerely hope it is,
and I am sure anyone would be much
benefited by taking advantage of the op-
portunity that is offered them.
It is a strange thing to me that the
mere act of putting a man on the program
is to ensure his staying away. If we
were at all superstitious, we would say
that putting a man on the program is a
sure sign that he won't be at the meet-
ing. However, on the subject "Methods
of Handling Citrus Groves" we are luck-
ier than usual, for we have two members
on the committee present, Mr. Williams
and Mr. Thompson.



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INGEST IEID EH115OVXX_212ARG INGEST_TIME 2011-07-29T20:20:08Z PACKAGE AA00000206_00065