My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

Text Size: Small Text Normal Text Large Text Larger Text

COPENHAGEN, Denmark—We ended our day in the Danish countryside by inspecting the 400-acre estate called Gjorslev. It is owned by Edv Tesdorpf, who is a charming man and a member of Parliament.

He and his wife entertained us at luncheon in the old part of the manor house which once belonged to the Archbishop, who was the political adviser of Queen Margaret, the only Scandinavian ruler ever to gather under one head all of the Scandinavian countries and rule them.

Besides the manor of Gjorslev, which consists of 1,350 acres, there is the smaller manor of Sholm of 800 acres, an even smaller farm, Sgaard, of about 14 acres and 1,850 acres of forest land.

The same careful planning goes into this big estate as into all of the others I have described—so many acres of this and so many acres of that. In this country, sugar beets are profitable both as a fodder and as a crop.

Of course, milk is chiefly used for butter production, and the hogs for bacon and ham are most important. Cattle are bred very carefully to increase the milk production.

This is the first farm I have seen where the forest was used for commercial purposes. It consists largely of beech and about 3,000 or 4,000 cubic meters of wood are cut annually. All of the farms are run separately and are highly mechanized, and I never saw machinery so beautifully kept.

The old part of the manor house was built in 1396 and the rooms look almost Gothic. Why they had such high ceilings when they had no heating except open fireplaces is a mystery.

Now, the family has a modern wing with all modern equipment. But they have kept the old-fashioned stove in the kitchen and still burn wood or peat in it, as the women of the house say they prefer it to modern gas. The barns were built as far back as 1630, but no matter what their ages, they looked very modern to me.

I enjoyed my visit with my hosts very much and was grateful to the Minister of Agriculture for having arranged these three delightful visits.

On the way back we stopped to see the modern homes which are of particular interest to the Minister of Agriculture.

He feels that factory workers and their children who live in big cities should have an opportunity for some contact with country life. So he has backed a movement for the government to buy areas of land on the outskirts of the cities and sell small plots where people can have gardens and build themselves small and simple summer homes.

It is like camping out and, he said, it does the children a world of good to partake of country life and eat the food they grow themselves.

This movement has now developed a regular organized group, with some 50,000 or more members. They are politically quite strong and, though they are divided up into communities of about 300 worker families, there is hardly a city that is not building up such areas on its outskirts.

How this idea could be adapted to our use and help us with our juvenile delinquency problems has been going round and round in my mind ever since I visited these houses.