Brookline Elementary School Garden - 1920

Brookline Elementary School Gardens - 1920
Children working in the Brookline School Garden in 1920.

On September 23, 1920, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported on a Garden Show hosted at Brookline School, featuring a joint exhibit of the best selections from vegetable gardens maintained by pupils of the Brookline and West Liberty Schools.

"Rose Metz, aged 14, a pupil in the West Liberty School, won three first prizes, one each for cabbage, tomatoes and beans. Other first prize winners of the West Liberty School were Lucille Berger for carrots and Ruth Hixenbaugh for summer squash. The West Liberty school garden is located along Pioneer Avenue across the street from the school."

The Brookline school garden contest was also marked with a fine show of vegetables. The winners of first prizes were Ralph Thompson for beans, Esther Schmidt, beans; Olive Alwes, tomatoes; and Edward Boltenfield for carrots. Harold Dumbell is captain of the Brookline School garden, located along Pioneer Avenue at Rossmore."

Brookline Elementary School Gardens - 1920

The September 26, 1920, the Pittsburgh Daily Post ran a long feature on the 1920 competition, which we've copied here:

A garden produce exhibit was hele in the Brookline public school last Wednesday night. Now that in itself is nothing remarkable, to be sure, but it wasn't an ordinary exhibit. All of the members of the vegetable tribe were present - all that are listed in the seed catalogues, and then some. There were tomatoes that looked like balloons, beans large enough to choke the most gluttonous of thieving fowls, cabbages, peppers, radishes, potatoes, squashes, onions, beets, carrots, cucumbers, egg plant, lettuce, Swiss chard and all the rest of the garden aristocracy.

The exhibits filled two long tables, which trembled under the weight of them. Each article was polished until it glistened in the electric light. Some were placarded and bedecked with blue, red or white ribbons.

Pupils of the Brookline and West Liberty schools raised the produce on the plots they worked during the summer. The exhibit was held under the Department of Nature Study and School Gardens of which John A. Hollinger is the director.

One day last May the ground adjoining the Brookline institution was divided into miniature farms, each 8 1/2 by 16 feet, under the direction of Principal J. F. Moore. There were just 104 of the little plots, and they were apportioned to as many pupils. The same procedure was undergone at the West Liberty school, which started 88 embryo farmers in business. Each young tiller of the school soil then decided upon a vegetable that he of she favored, and lo! the race was on!

Through the spring and the too quickly terminated vacation the young agriculturalists plowed, hoed, raked, trapped bugs in their lair, gathered weeds when they got ripe, and did all of those things which have given hours of pleasure (?) to most every enterprising suburbanite. In the course of time queer things began to shoot up out of the ground which were not weeds, gratification was brought to young hearts and a bumper crop was predicted.

And while the youngsters were busy, their parents caught the fever and began to steal the farming paraphernalia after bedtime. They made home gardens and community gardens, and in their spare time went over to talk with the kids about the possibilities of a drought. Brookline and West Liberty were farming!

Last Tuesday the children's toil ended. The final trip to the gardens was made (the last before the end of the competition) and the young ones gathered their choicest products for the exhibit. Then, after weeks of hopeful waiting, the awards of the judges were made.

Out of the eager throng of youthful farmers and farmerettes there emerged one Rose Metz, 14 years old, champion agriculturalist of the two schools. Rose, with the beans, tomatoes and cabbages that she had protected throughout the long summer against bugs, weather and West Liberty's domestic animal tribe, won three first prizes. With the ribbon-winning vegetables before her, Rose shyly explained the great secret last Wednesday.

"It's not hard," she confided. "All you've got to do is keep the weeds and bugs away. I've had lots of fun doing it." - she stroked the cabbage head fondly - "these are my pets."

All of the children appear to have had "lots of fun" doing it. In the school hall, as part of the exhibit, were the garden utensils which were used. Hanging on the shaft of a diminutive plow was a placard marked "Our Field Artillery." More than one potato used in the exhibit is a household pet, and several of the spuds have been christened.

Other prize winners are: Brookline school - First prizes, Captain Harold Dumbell, Esther Schmidt, Olive Allwes, Edward Bottenfield and Ralph Thompson; second prizes, Theresa Shervenski, Alice Fisher and William Davis; third prize, Clifton Bradshaw. From the West Liberty school - First prizes, Rose Metz, Ruth Hixenbaugh, Lucille Berger, Jean Francis, Mary Edmonds and Charles Magnani; second prizes, Edward Walter, Helen Bartsch and Mary Edmonds; third prize, Edith Nordquist.

Part of the garden produce raised will be given to the children to take home. The rest will be distributed among the schools of the city that did not have gardens of their own, for use in the cooking departments. In addition to one day's harvest which resulted in the great quantity of vegetables used in the exhibit, $516.65 worth of produce was sold during the summer. This amount was gotten from the crops of the school and community gardens.

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