Harvey Nourse – Strawberries

A Two Story Affair ca 1911 Henry Van Cleave photo BHA 1980.9.4

A Two Story Affair ca 1911
Photo: Henry Van Cleave
BHA: 1980.9.4

Harvey Nourse Strawberries

Iron River Pioneer & Bayfield Progress – July 6, 1911

[Headed by “Brother P. J. Savage, the able editor and municipal judge, the Iron River Pioneer Press, came over to Bayfield with a representative party to view the orchards, Bayfield’s big berries and fields and Bayfield Fish Hatchery.]

“Leaving Bayfield early in the morning by auto and livery the party drove in a southwesterly direction, visiting the farms of Frank V. Holston, Harvey Nourse, Morris Ryder, Henry Sykes and the state experimental farm at Salmo. On every field the berry pickers, for the most part girls and young ladies, were as busy as bees and carrying the ruby reds to the temporary sorting and checking houses which are found on every field. Two systems of picking are in vogue.  Some have men employed in carrying the berries from the field to the central station, while others require the pickers to deliver their berries themselves.

A tag is issued to each picker every morning with their number thereon corresponding with the number the picker has in a record which is kept by the manager of the plantation.  As the pickers deliver a tray of four quarts at the station or to the carrier, as the case may be, the tag is punched with a punch procured for that purpose. In the evening the tags are turned in, and each one credited with the number of quarts indicated on the tag.  This system has been found to be the simplest and most reliable of any tried and is generally most adopted by the growers.

The largest field we visited were owned or leased by Harvey Nourse. He had thirteen acres in fruit this year, and to harvest this crop he required the services of sixty-eight pickers.  Of the sixty-eight, but three were boys and noting that they were, for the most part from Superior—girls who are students in the schools in that city. Two or three teachers from Superior were also there, and they acted as chaperons for the girls and at the same time performed some work in connections with checking and sorting.

On the Nourse farm we found that a building had been constructed to accommodate the pickers and to meet the requirements of the berry farm.  It was a two-story affair, possibly 30 x 60 feet, and two stories in height.  The first floor was divided by a partition extending the whole length of the building.  On one side was a spacious dining hall and kitchen in the rear, and the other was a storehouse for berry boxes and other little devices as used in putting crates together.  The second story consisted of a large ward, well ventilated, and screened, where the pickers slept.

The plants at the Nourse farm were set out last year and the stand there was very fine, and the plants well loaded with fruit in various stages of development from small green berries to large, ripe ones.  The soil there was a mixture of clay and sand, with a larger percentage of clay than sand.  It was at the base of a large hill where the seepage kept the ground moist most of the time and tended to supply the much-needed moisture for an abundant crop.  While much depends upon the weather conditions of the next ten days, yet this field will undoubtedly produce not less than 500 crates to the acre. The two-year-old fields and those not heavily mulched which were one year old, seemed to be further advanced and did not produce such luxuriant foliage, nor as many nor as large berries, variety considered.

Field of Pickers from Superior Wisconsin Henry Van Cleave photo BHA 2008.16.94

Field of Pickers from Superior Wisconsin
Photo: Henry Van Cleave
BHA: 2008.16.94

This history brief was written by Robert J. Nelson. Generously sharing our local history through his research and writing.