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Saturday 25 March 1916 - Women workers for the land

Category World War I: Labour issues/Military Tribunals
The Evesham Journal
Transcription of article


There was a most interesting meeting at Evesham Town Hall last Friday evening (arranged by the Evesham and District Market Gardeners’ and Fruit Growers Association) upon the subject of providing women workers on the land. It was well attended by local growers, and it is certain that they were very favourably impressed by what the two lady speakers had to tell them. The point to be borne in mind is that the National Land Council, which the two ladies represented, offer to supply growers with women helpers who are volunteering their services from patriotic motives. Some growers, we know, are apt to scoff at the idea of outside women being of much practical use in market gardens and fruit plantations; but we are certain that these women will be able to give help which will be of the utmost value during the coming season, and we strongly recommend growers to get in touch with the organisation without delay.


There are certain difficulties which still have to be met, but we are far from thinking that they are insoluble.  The matter of accommodation is one of them. The women will not, as a rule, be able to pay very much money for board and lodging, but we understand that they will be prepared to sacrifice some of the comforts to which they have probably been accustomed, and that they will not mind roughing it, to a certain extent. In most cases, therefore, they will be able to find accommodation. We suggest that it would be an excellent thing if some large house or institution could be placed at the disposal of the women for use as a hostel. We should like to point out that any residents who assist these women workers in the matter of accommodation are doing their patriotic duty.


There was one point which has not touched upon at this meeting, but it is one which to our mind has a rather important bearing upon the subject of women workers on the market gardens. A  good deal has been said about the efficient manner in which women take to various branches of farm-work, such as milking and looking after stock; and it is argued  that they would do equally well in the market gardens and fruit plantations. There is however one important difference – much farm work lasts for a considerable period, and when it is once learnt the women can go on with it without difficulty as long as her services are needed. To give an instance, there is not much difference in milking at any period of the year. But in the market gardens, where so many crops are raised, the work varies from month to month, and sometimes week to week; and the women will have to learn a fresh job as soon as they have mastered one. It will have some compensation, too, for with a greater variety of work the women will not suffer from monotony.


Farmers, and incidentally market gardeners, are warned that in view of the large number of men required for the Army, it is practically certain that more will have to be taken from the land. What applicants at the Tribunals generally urge is that they cannot be spared from the farm or the market garden. The military representatives will want to know what steps have been taken to get other help, and in view of the fact that women are offering their services they will probably inquire whether any effort has been made to obtain women workers. The excuse of the farmer that if his man is taken there will be nobody to milk the cows will not hold good. Already farmers are being asked what steps they have taken to train women for the work, and they are not likely to get much consideration in the future, now that so many women are available. We recommend farmers and market gardeners to train women for as many branches of their work as possible. They will in all probability be well repaid for any trouble they take in this direction. From an advertisement in another column it will be seen that full particulars can be obtained from Mrs. George Jones, of Lenchwick, Evesham.