Near Gardiner, Maine, is a little forty-five acre poultry and fruit farm which pays its happy owner $3,800 a year clear of all expense. Seven years ago this farm was abandoned by its former owners, who could not make it pay. Five years ago it was purchased by its present owner for a song—and only a half-line of the song was sung at the time. He was a clerk who had lived the little-flat-dark-office-and-subway life until tuberculosis had removed him from his job and threatened his life. Farm work—on his own farm—proved to be a game at which he could play with zest and success. The stakes were a life and a living—and he has won. We—and you, too, no doubt—could multiply narratives from observation and experience, to say nothing of reading.
All these experiences and the reports of them are both a part of and a stimulus to the “back to the land movement.” This movement has its mainspring in two plain economic facts, namely: first, clerical and other indoor vocations have become overcrowded; second, while crops grow bigger year by year, the number of mouths to feed multiplies even faster, and unless more land is tilled and all land cultivated more intensively, we shall eat less and less, as a race, and pay more and more for what we eat. Here is opportunity for the men of bone and muscle—opportunity for health, prosperity, usefulness to humanity, enjoyment and happiness. Other opportunities lie in the conservation of our forests and the planting and development of new timber lands; in the building up of new industries for manufacturing our raw materials; in restoring the American flag to the seas of the world; in extending our foreign trade; in opening and operating inland waterways; in irrigating or draining our millions of square miles of land now lying idle; in the development of Alaska, and the harnessing of our great mines of “white coal”—water-power.
Our foreign trade requires men of this type to travel in all parts of the world as commercial ambassadors, diligently collecting, compiling, and sending back to the United States information necessary in manufacturing goods for foreign consumption; also information regarding credits, prices, shipping, packing—in short, complete and detailed knowledge about commerce with foreign lands, how to secure it and how to hold it.
The world’s greatest opportunities to-day, perhaps, lie within the grasp of the men of this active type. Instead of pioneering in exploration, as in former years, they are needed to pioneer in production. From the earliest history of the race, these restless men have been faring westward and ever westward, adding to the wealth and resources of humanity by opening up new lands. But the crest of the westward moving tide has now circumnavigated the globe, and the Far West meets the Far East on the Pacific Ocean.