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DIVISION OF GARDENS AND GROUNDS. This division is charged with the care of the grounds and conservatories surrounding and attached to the Department buildings. The grounds include some 40 acres, with roadways, walks, trees, etc., to be looked after and kept in order; and in the conservatories and propagating houses are conducted the propagation and culture of economic plants. The distribution of these plants throughout the country, with due regard of course to the climatic conditions favorable to their growth, devolves upon the Superintendent.
The conservatory attached to the Department is a common resort of visitors to the national capital, and I have been impressed with the fact that its educational features have not been as complete as it seems to me is desirable. These conservatories are not only among the finest in the country, but the plants they contain having been selected according to a special design and embracing a very large variety not only of the ornamental, but especially of the economically useful varieties, much useful instruction would result to visitors by the preparation for free distribution of a carefully prepared catalogue, provided with reference numbers and a plan of the greenhouses, so that the several plants could be readily identified. As so large a portion of the conservatories is devoted to plants of economic value, this catalogue should be sufficiently full to explain the value of each plant, as well as the method of cultivation and of the preparation of the commercial product. I have accordingly made arrangements for the preparation of such a catalogue, and am quite satisfied that when completed the work will not only reflect credit upon the Superintendent of Gardons and Grounds, to whom it is intrusted, but will be found of great interest and value to visitors to the conservatories; indeed, it will no doubt have the effect of greatly increasing the number of visitors, especially of those whom it should be the object of all public institutions to serve in a particular manner. I refer to young people in attendance upon cur educational institutions.
The plants distributed through this division during the past fiscal year amounted to over 80,000, and included olives, tea, coffee, camphor, strawberries, grapes, both native and foreign, citrus of many species, raspberries, date palms, figs, Japan persimmons, currants, loquats, guavas, pine-apples, black pepper, vanilla, mangoes, and bananas. Reports as to the results obtained with the plants so distributed are encouraging. The culture of the olive is fairly established on the Pacific coast, and it seems likely that it can be profitably established on the Atlantic coast as well, the tree being well adapted to the climates over a wide range in the Southern States. With this end in view, the Department recently imported some of the best selected varieties, which are now being propagated for
eventual distribution in suitable localities. There were also dis. tributed some 10,000 cuttings of Smyrna figs of carefully selected varieties, such as furnish the dried figs of commerce.
At present the camphor tree is found well adapted as a shade tree in Florida, where suitable shade trees are a matter of special interest, and many plants have been sent into that State during the past
It is hoped that at some time the plant may be profitably utilized for its commercial products. With the increased demand for camphor, it is believed that the prices for the article would warrant an extension of the plant in some of the Southern States. It has been proved to withstand the climate of the Atlantic coast as far north as Charleston, S. C. It is a hardier tree than the orange, probably nearly as hardy as the olive. To enable those who may desire to experiment with the tree, a quantity of plants will be propagated sufficient for a generous distribution in the near future.
The black pepper, vanilla, cinchona, and the cocoa (Erythroxylon coca) are being propagated and have been distributed to some extent. Their success is as yet somewhat problematical, but is possible in some situations in southern Florida, where these plants may obtain permanent foothold.
The importance of this work in the general encouragement of the growth of useful and economic plants is shown by the large amount of imports of fruits, nuts, spices, and vegetable products, which could certainly be much reduced were the cultivation of these plants undertaken, if only in those limited localities where they can be cultivated with assurance of success.
THE WEATHER BUREAU.
Under an act approved October 1, 1890, Congress directed “that the civilian duties now performed by the Signal Corps of the Army shall hereafter devolve upon a bureau to be known as the Weather Bureau, which, on and after July 1, 1891, shall be established in and attached to the Department of Agriculture.”
In accordance with this act I have included estimates for the ensuing fiscal year for carrying on the work of the bureau thus created in this Department. I deem it evident from the discussion which attended the passage of this act, and from the wording of the act itself, that in making this transfer of the Weather Bureau to this Department it was the intention of Congress that the work of the bureau should be extended, in so far as might be necessary to a full co-operation of this branch of the service with the work of the sev. eral divisions already established in this Department for the benefit of agriculture, without in any way restricting its general scope. In this spirit I have submitted estimates for the coming year on the basis of the wider range of work thus contemplated, and I take the opportunity of expressing here my own conviction that in many ways the work of meteorological observation which this Department will be thus enabled to carry on in conjunction with its other work, will be found of great value to the farming interests of the country. It is indeed self-evident that to complete the study of soil conditions, of animal and plant life, a study of the climatic conditions of our country is indispensable.
REPRESENTATION OF THE DEPARTMENT AT FAIRS, ETC. In my last report I referred to the fact that there are held in this country annually a vast number of fairs-usually a State or Territorial fair in every State and Territory in the Union, many other large district or interstate fairs, while county fairs are very nearly as numerous as the number of counties in the whole country. It is a very essential part of the duty of this Department to keep itself well informed in regard to the extent and character of the agricultural resourees of all sections of the country, and I know of no opportunity for adding materially to this information at so slight an expense of time and money as is afforded by these exhibitions, which bring together in one place samples of all the best that the country can produce.
It is my desire that the representatives of this Department should be found hereafter at all the principal State fairs, under instructions to make a thorough report on the character of the exhibits, and at the same time to avail themselves of meeting, as they will do on such occasions, the leading representatives of agricultural interests, from whom much can be learned as to the wants of the farmers, the nature of their difficulties, and the best manner in which the Department can serve them. Furthermore, I desire to carry this system of representation at the fairs as far as possible, even to include county fairs, by availing myself of the co-operation of the large staff of voluntary correspondents of the Department distributed through all sections of the country, and to whose enthusiastic devotion to the cause of agriculture the Department has already been often and much indebted. It seems to me that by such means a sort of bird'seye view, as it were, might be obtained of the agricultural resources of the country, with the result of supplying this Department with a vast amount of valuable information which can not only not be secured so easily in any other way, but indeed can not be secured at all except by these means.
Among other services which these representatives could render the Department would be the collection and forwarding to the Department museum samples of the various exhibits which at present are too frequently scattered and lost. This subject naturally leads to a consideration of the necessity for a more frequent interchange of thought between this Department and the agricultural intelligence of the country. I called attention in my last report to the fact that there had been, especially in the past few years in the United States, an enormous development in the agricultural organizations devoted to the farmer's self-improvement. Our dairy associations, our horticultural, life-stock, and kindred societies, have not only multiplied as to number, but to-day are far more active in holding meetings and conventions than they have ever been before. The farmers' institutes are meetings of a general character, attended usually by the best farmers in the sections in which they are held, and bringing together the best agricultural thought and practice. Not only do I deem it to be of the utmost importance, indeed a solemn duty devolving upon this Department, that these meetings and gatherings should be encouraged in every possible way by their representative Department in the National Government, but I conceive it to be absolutely necessary for the intelligent conduct of the work of this Department that it should be frequently represented at such meetings, not only for the encouragement and benefit of those present, but for the benefit of this Department and its division chiefs.
Speaking from my own experience, I am aware that in the large section of country with which I am familiar, from an agricultural standpoint, most important meetings have been held in recent years. Questions of the gravest import to the agriculture of this country have been discussed at these meetings, and yet rarely indeed has there been present any person representing the National Department of Agriculture who could speak for it, and what is still more important, learn for it the views and wants of these people. This is a condition of affairs which calls for immediate remedy, and in so far as the liberality of Congress will enable me to do so, I am determined to provide that remedy. It is only by the closest co-operation between this Department and the agricultural societies—the Granges, the Alliances, etc.,—that the work of the Department can be carried to its highest development and attain its greatest usefulness, and I recommend that a special fund be placed at my disposal for this purpose.
COLUMBIAN WORLD'S FAIR.
The act of Congress approved April 25, 1890, gave national assent to and recognition of the proposition to hold a World's Columbian Exposition in the city of Chicago in the year 1893. The bill provides that there shall be prepared a governmental exhibit. For the purpose of securing harmony of installation and arrangement, it was provided that a board consisting of persons to be designated, one each by the head of each Department, should be formed. In compliance with this law I designated the Hon. Edwin Willits, Assistant Secretary of Agriculture, as representative of this Department upon the board, and you ratified this nomination and designated him as its chairman. Mr. Willits informs me that doubt upon the part of the accounting officers of the Treasury has already been expressed as to the availability of the funds appropriated by Congress for the work in hand, and at this writing we have an intimation that nothing can be purchased, nothing constructed, nothing exhibited which is not now in the Departments, and that no outside assistance can be employed in any branch of the work of preparation.
In so far as the Agricultural Department is concerned, I say without reservation, it were better to abandon the attempt to make any exhibit than to undertake the task with such limitations. It certainly is not my intention to enter the exposition field in competition with the private, State, or corporate exhibitor, but beyond this field there lies a wide region wherein this Department may operate in illustrating those functions which are peculiarly its own. This Department is instinct with science. A process can not be fully illustrated on a printed page, and this exposition furnishes a rare opportunity, which hardly comes twice in a lifetime, to supplement the publications, at present its only means of communicating with the public, by a spectacular exhibition of current methods of dealing with agricultural problems and processes. If the work devolving upon this Department in connection with this exposition is to be undertaken at all, it must be in such a manner as to guaranty satisfactory results; and in its performance we must be left at liberty to avail ourselves of such material and such expert assistance as we can find adapted to the purpose. I commend the subject to your attention in the hope that any obstacles to effective work now existing may be removed by Congress, and that the work may proceed without delay.
The needs of the Museum have continued to receive my most thoughtful attention. A marked improvement in the appearance of the exhibit has been effected by its re-arrangement and renovation; and plans have been perfected by which, it is believed, the aid recently granted by Congress will be applied to the best possible advantage. The educational, scientific, and historical interests which would be promoted by a distinctly agricultural museum of suitable character are too generally recognized to need urging at this time. It should be a matter of regret, however, that for the thousands who annually visit us from abroad, impressed in advance with the magnitude and diversity of our agricultural productions, we should have no permanent national collection fitly illustrating the products of our soil. The need of such a collection, moreover, is being keenly felt in investigations prosecuted by this Department,