Million and a Half Strawberry Plants
The following was transcribed from A Story of the Red Cross, Galveston chapter, pages 194 - 196, written and published by Clara Barton in 1904.
“Immediately closing our relief rooms in Galveston I had all Red Cross supplies shipped to Houston, and relief for the mainland opened there. These were farming districts, and I directed intelligent inquiry to be made as to what was most needed by the devastated farm lands and their owners. All was swept away--- sometimes as far as forty miles back into the level country; often the soil itself was washed away, the home and all smaller animals destroyed, and no feed for the larger ones to subsist on. The poor farmers walked their desolated fields and wrung their hands.
It proved that this was the strawberry section of Southern Texas, and these were the strawberry growers that supplied the early berries to our Northern market. For miles not a plant was left and no means to replant. This was reported to me on the first day’s investigation, and also that if plants could be obtained and set within two weeks a half crop could be grown this year and the industry restored. That seemed a better occupation for these poor fellows than walking the ground and wringing their hands. The messenger was sent back at daybreak to ascertain how many plants would be needed to replant these lands, where they were accustomed to procure them, and what varieties were best adapted to their use.
That night brought again the messenger to say that a million and a half of plants would reset the lands and that their supply came from the nurseries in North Carolina, Illinois, Arkansas, and Louisiana. Directions were sent back to Mr. Ward to order the plants to be there in two weeks. This was done. Only thirty-eight thousand plants were injured in transit, and those were generously resupplied by the shippers. Within the two weeks this million and a half of strawberry plants were set. It was estimated that fully a third of a crop was realized that year, and it is safe to predict that one-half the readers of this little sketch will partake of the fruits of these Red Cross relief strawberry fields this very springtime.
Other needs to a large amount were supplied by Mr. Ward, and we left no idle, wringing hands on the mainlands of Texas.”