The Terrible 20’s and the Great Depression

Ray Gesell in front of the OTM.

Clarence Oscarson holding two bags of onions and standing in front of the Old Trail Market.

Ray Gesell returned to the Probstfield Farm after the war was over.  While much of America experienced an economic boom during the Roaring ‘20s, farmers started their Great Depression a decade earlier than everyone else.  For twenty years, prices for grain, vegetables, and meat were too low for farmers to make a decent living.  “It didn’t make any difference how hard you worked or what you did,” Ray said years later. “You couldn’t come out even.”

Ray and his aunts and uncle on the farm were able to make it because of the garden.  While they had no money, they had veggies, a flock of chickens, a milk cow and usually a pig or two.  They were truck farmers, growing vegetables to bring into town or to sell at the Old Trail Market, the roadside vegetable stand on the farm.

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2 thoughts on “The Terrible 20’s and the Great Depression

  1. Johnette

    In a way, it’s kind of like bribing garden invaders (whether
    they’re deer, rabbits or insects) with something yummy instead
    of what you’re trying to grow for yourself. One of
    the largest permaculture communities in the US, Earthhaven Ecovillage, is located in the nearby town of Black Mountain.
    The wildlife they are exposed to is often mediated by technology or educational curriculum that just doesn’t offer the
    allure of a virtual world.

    Reply
  2. Doug Oscarson

    Very interesting and so true. The photo however, is not of Ray Gesell but my father, Clarence Oscarson holding the onions in front of the Old Trail Gardens stand. Dad had been working at the Old Trail Market farm (now called Probstfield Farm) for several years while in high school. In fact, this is where his love of building started when he helped build the main barn. He told the owner, Ray Gesell, that he needed to earn more money so he wouldn’t be returning the next summer. Ray, knowing “Oscy” was a hard worker, offered Dad an acre of land where he could grow whatever he wanted and keep all the proceeds if he would just return to work in the summer of 1938. Dad agreed and planted onions on his acre. Dad enlisted his five sisters to help harvest and shared the money with them and his mother. Yes, this photo is definitely my father.

    Reply

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