The Agriculture Fairs

October 28, 1868


The Dispatch encourages people to get back into farming for reasons varying from a desire to help the economy to a desire to bring back the state fair. The Dispatch gives a list of general ideas and principles to go by to be a successful farmer. The Dispatch also says that with the new manufacturing industries in Richmond, it is easier than ever to get them to buy your products and make your tools for cheap. So the Dispatch thinks its both opportunistic and good to go into farming.


The Agricultural Fairs. Tho disposition to establish and maintain in a spirited manner agricultural fairs, at which are exhibited the products of skill and toil in culture, and stock distinguished for excellence and careful handling, is to be hailed with the highest satisfaction by all reflecting and public-spirited people. It is peculiarly fortunate that this disposition should appear at this particular juncture. Not only is the country to be lifted up from a condition of very great prostration, but the tillers of the soil are compelled by a great change in the system of labor to introduce radical reforms in their mode of cultivation. Therefore the annual meetings of farmers at the local fairs, their free conferences, their opportunities of examining machines and investigating new varieties of seeds, roots, and fruit trees, are of the greatest importance to them. While in this way the farmer gathers new ideas and new views, more important to him now than ever, he returns home, with hope re-inspired and energy invigorated, to proceed steadily with the reform which he finds but the more indispensable from what he has seen. No man can behold the spirit of these local meeting without deploring the omission of a fall meeting of the State Agricultural Society. It is needless to debate the failure to hold that fair. We can now only urge officers, members, and citizens, to begin at once to prepare for a grand meeting next fall. This we are sure will be done, and that the State fair will be then revived In its former magnitude, and with, we hope, increased success Every day impresses upon our people the importance of introducing a system of more thorough tillage. This is to be done by diminishing the area tilled; applying manure liberally to this area : and thus so increasing the product that it will exceed the yield of the expansive area. Thus the land will be improving annually, and the rewards of labor increasing, whilst under the expansive system the land must annually deteriorate and the yield be diminished. As auxiliary to the system of diminished surface cultivation, the farmer must compact his buildings, diminish the distances between store-houses and places of feeding, keep fewer and better cattle, and maintain neither labor nor brute that will not pay. He cannot afford to pay cash for labor that does not pay for itself and yield a profit, and he cannot afford to keep idle horses or poor and useless cattle; nay, even supernumerary dogs - for they all must get a living out of him ; and now he cannot afford to feed useless creatures. There is now no profit from increase of slaves to fill up gaps ; and farming that is without profit winds up inevitably in ruin. And just here it may be remarked that the new system will be made all the more successful and prosperous by the establishment of large commercial and manufacturing communities within the State. They afford the farmer a market at his very door, and they enable him to increase the variety of his crops to his great advantage. He has new sources of profit, a near market, and can convert his produce into money quickly. Therefore it becomes the interest of the farmer to foster our domestic trade and mechanical skill. The merchant who sells to the farmer, if he properly appreciates the interest of his customer, will contribute his share towards building up the cities of his own State. He will be unfaithful to himself and his customer, and recreant to his duty to the State, if he does not. We cannot overestimate the immense advantage that will flow to all classes of people, and especially the farmer, from the existence of large communities engaged in trade and manufacturing within the State. A proper and practical view of the common interest of us all, let alone State pride, would induce every one, freely and heartily, to give his influence and material aid to build up such cities here in Virginia. Fully appreciating the importance of the agricultural associations, we do trust that the most active preparations will be made for those of next fall. It is time to begin now. Preparation of ground, seeding, culture, all begin now. The Danville Border Society appointed committees on tobacco, wheat, and corn, who are to gather as much information as possible on the various modes of cultivation and the experiments that may be made, with a view to spread it all before the next meeting. Every man should be a committee of one to make similar researches into all matters interesting to the farmer. We have fallen low. We must regain our strength from the ground. A united and vigorous effort of the " sons of the soil " will soon lift up Virginia and restore to her plenty and prosperity.
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Jacob Markman




“The Agriculture Fairs,” Reconstructing Virginia, accessed May 20, 2022,