NOVEMBER 4, 1939
ST. JOSEPH, Mo. En Route, Friday—Mr. and Mrs. John P. Harris were the most delightful and understanding hosts. They gave us time to write this column yesterday in Hutchinson, Kansas, arranged quiet and peaceful meals, and then held an informal reception in the hotel near the railroad stationafter the lecture. As a result, everybody was happy and we had as much time as possible to do the one thing which I was really anxious to do while in Hutchinson— see the shelter belt planning.
Mr. F. A. Silcox, Chief of the Forest Service, had written me that I could obtain a very good idea of it by taking a three hour trip. His representative in that region, Mr. Russell Reitz, came for us at 2:00 o'clock and Miss Thompson and I started out. Our first stop was at some planting which had been done four years ago.
The land is first cultivated and then a row of thick shrubbery is planted, followed by rows of different kinds of trees. One row is usually either fruit or nut trees, while in the middle the quick growing cottonwoods have already attained a height of 25 feet. On the far side of these, the planting is reversed until you end up with shrubs again. Fences are strung on either side of the shelter belt to keep cattle out. The weeds have to be kept down the first few years so as to permit the trees to gain their maximum growth. To achieve the best results in breaking the wind velocity, each shelter belt should be a half a mile long.
About fourteen or fifteen old-time farm people—men and women—met me there. The forestry representatives told me that because this section of Kansas once had trees, some of the earlier settlers recognized their value and planted hundreds of trees themselves. They at once took advantage of the help offered by the Government and were its best cooperators. One of the councilmen told me that now the value of this planting had become apparent to many farmers, who at first scoffed at the idea that you could make trees grow and had considered it a waste of both money and time. One white haired woman said to me that she had not believed in it, but had been willing to try it out because women were more willing to try new things than men. Now her family called the planting her forest, but they no longer made fun of her.
Another councilman told me that there were a few people still who refused to cooperate on the ground that it was the wrong administration making the suggestions. I remember well some of the gibes this idea evoked and it was certainly a satisfaction to see the results in better crops which wind protection had brought to many a farmer's land.
We covered miles of dirt roads yesterday. While those farms where oil has been found, and a few other farms, looked prosperous and well kept, I think it is evident that many of these farmers have been hard hit the past few years.
We left last night for Kansas City, where we joined Mrs. Flynn and Miss Cotsworth, and are now on our way to Lincoln, Nebraska.