This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V22", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
As the Gardener's Monthly is a horticultural and not a firming paper, we fancied there was a mistake in sending it to us for review, but in a note our "Sincere Friend," Mr. Mongredien, tells us " that the word ' farmer ' is used to denote all producers of articles by the cultivation of the soil." Well, our " friend " commences by reminding us that " the golden rule for successful trading is ' to buy in the cheapest and sell in the dearest market.' " No man of any common sense doubts this. The only question is, which is the cheap one and which is the dear one? Mr. Mongredien, the " sincere friend of the western farmer," would have him believe that the lowest priced market is the cheapest for the buyer, and that this low priced market is his market, that is, the English market of course; for if the American were the cheaper, he would not be our " sincere friend." But every American buyer knows that low-priced things are not necessarily the cheapest, for there are cheap things that are likewise nasty and mean.
It is not which market is lowest and cheapest, but which is the cheapest and best.
To decide this we have to look on two pictures. Mr. Mongredien, in his sincere friendship for the western farmer, would have him send all his crops to Europe and pay a host of middlemen to buy in Europe and bring to him what he needs that he cannot raise himself. The western country, as it can raise corn more cheaply than England, should be content with being a huge farm for English people; and in that event, as Mr. Mongredien figures it out, they would save a few dollars in cash per annum, in so far as the mere purchases of these immediate necessaries of life are concerned. But the " western farmer " the few past years, has learned a thing or two which his " sincere friends " over the way had forgotten to tell him; that there is such a thing as saving at the spigot and wasting at the bung; and while he was saving a dime by going to his English friends with his products, he was losing a dollar elsewhere. His "virgin soil " will some day be espoused to agriculture. It must then have manure, and this can always be had from towns and cities near him. The time comes when he cannot do all the work himself, he must have cheap labor, either in the shape of human muscle or machinery, and he wants these as near as possible to him, that he may get them on emergencies.
He wants his children to be intelligent and cultured, and to have religious associations and refined companionship; and he knows that these only come from making numerous prosperous towns and villages over the length and breadth of this huge western farm. Besides all this, the western farmer is quite as much interested in the increased value of his land as in the price a bushel of corn will bring in London. So long as Europe is his only market his land will be of no more value than the principal sum represented by the profit on his acre of grain. It could never be worth over ten dollars an acre. But as soon as a town gets near him, he can sell milk, butter, eggs, chickens, cabbages, tomatoes, strawberries and raspberries; Norway spruces and Norway maples; roses and verbenas, or thousands of things that he could never dispose of in his "European market," and the result is, that from five to ten dollars his land goes to fifty, one hundred, or even two hundred dollars or more an acre, because of the facilities with which all these little extras can be turned into cash. The western farmer has been acting on this principle for some years past. Towns and villages have sprung up everywhere about him. Manufacturers are prospering at his elbow, and buy almost everything he has to sell.
And here is the point of the whole argument. Is it wise to break up all these flourishing centres, which bring us in hundreds of dollars, simply because we might save tens by buying in the "cheapest " market? Mr. Mongredien thinks it would be. He does not seem to have heard that a man may be penny-wise and pound-foolish.
We have thus given our opinion of this work without any reference to party politics, which is out of the line of the Gardener's Monthly. If the policy of the Democrats or the Republicans, or of the Protectionists or the Free Trader, will do the most to make western towns and western industries flourish, go in for any of them; but it is folly to believe that the western farmer or fruit grower has any interest of consequence that is not also the interest of every flourishing industry in his own neighborhood.