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Can you believe these "ladies"!
Mount Holyoke Students--the 1918 Farmerettes

Farmarettes from Mount Holyoke during World War I (22).
More farmarettes from Mount Holyoke work on fields nearby.(23)

Mount Holyoke Students did their part to support the war efforts locally. In 1917, a war garden was established on campus—a pioneering effort by Mount Holyoke College.

Dynamics of the Farm & Farmerettes: “Over 600 girls volunteered to perform two or three hours’ work each week of the regular session, a figure which was reduced to 400, first by physical examinations and later because there was not work enough for all who survived the first test. The six original acres assigned to the garden were soon expanded to twelve. Nearly 150 volunteered to serve for a period of one month during the summer, laboring four hours each week day in the field….three groups of eighteen or twenty each were organized for a series of monthly summer shifts and lived in one of the dormitories supervised by college matrons who volunteered their services” (24).

Because the first year was such a success (they netted a profit of $64.70!), the following year the farms’ acreage was increased from the original six acres to twenty-eight. The number of students working the fields increased as well.

Fun Facts About The Farmerettes:
· The students were paid 20 cents an hour and paid for up to six hours a day.
· They were charged “moderately” for room and board.
· Mr. Skinner made available unused land of his own and kept the Sycamores for living accommodations for ten college volunteers.
· A potato crop of 2000 bushels was harvested for college’s use.
· in 1918, 17,400 cans of vegetables were prepared in a cannery that was set up.
· Fresh vegetables were available during harvest.
· Winter vegetables were stored for later use.
The efforts of the college and the farmerettes was considered a great success. The vegetable garden continued into 1919 “on a reduced scale merely to fill the empty cans that remained from the previous year”

The really big deal about the farmerettes efforts was that they acted in response to and in cooperation with the national food administration’s efforts to reduce the consumption of meat. In fact, after October of 1917, “in less than four months 5,628 pounds of meat were saved in this way” (27).

What happened to the farm? After the farmerettes' efforts in WWI, the farm was discontinued. During World War II the farm was reopened and a new generation of Mount Holyoke Students became active in the farming and community efforts on campus.

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This page was created by Anjanette Kelso-Watson '04 in History 283, Fall Semester 2003 -