Monday, March 7, 2011


This is one of my all time favorite books written in by Bolton Hall.
Assisted by R.F. Powell
Superintendent of the Vacant Lot Cultivation in Philadelphia

Published by Grosset & Dunlap - New York
Copyright 1907 March
By the Macmillan Company

Chapter IV 
Vacant City Lot Cultivation
Lessons for the the intensive cultivator - of poor land.
The effect upon physical, mental, moral health - illustrated.
A farm educator - in voluntary co-operation. Appreciation by railroads.
In Europe. In school gardens. Wonderful production. Your opportunity.

In this book, necessarily, we have to take much upon the reports of others checking them only by our own judgement and experience. The following account of what has been done and is being done on plots of about a quarter acre to each family, however can be easily re-verified by anyone who will go or write to Philadelphia, or examine the New York experiment. Both show what can be done even by unskilled labor, with hardly any capital, on small plots of ground where the soil is poor, but which is well situated.
The directors say: "The Philadelphia Vacant Lot Cultivation Association was organized in 1897, when relief agencies were vainly striving to provide adequate assistance for the host of unemployed. The cultivation of vacant city lots had already been tried successfully in other cities. The first year we provided gardens, seeds, tools, and instruction only, for about 100 families on twenty-seven acres of ground. At a total cost to contributors of about $1,800, our gardeners produced $6,000, worth of crops.

"During ten years more than four thousand four hundred families have been assisted, many old people who could no longer keep up the rapid pace of our industrial life, cripples whose physical condition held them back in the race for work, persons who on account of sickness or other misfortunes have been thrown out through sharp competition in modern business, and unfortunate beings who, though clear in mind and strong in muscle, on account of business conditions, have been forced to take the ranks of the unemployed - these have all had the opportunity to enjoy all of the fruits from natures great storehouse which an application of their own labor and skill might secure them.

I would like to extend my apologies to the Dervaes Family of Pasadena, California.
In my mind I firmly believed that Vacant Lot Cultivation was interchangeable with the term urban homesteading, and the term was in use in the late 1890's.
I see now that I was wrong.
That despite a common concept of a homesteading lifestyle in a city,
your copyrighted term shares nothing of the hardships that earlier gardeners faced in both lack of hospitable climate, knowledge, appropriate tools, or ownership of ground to say nothing of the lack of basic capital. These people were cultivators of all that is revered in gardening all that is good.

In short you sir are not worthy to lick the Vacant Lot Cultivation Association's hoes. 

~~ pelenaka ~~
who walks the talk without holding paper