And What it will do for New Zealand.
Fruit-Growing and What it will do for New Zealand.
A Lecture delivered by Mr. A. F. Spawn, of Melbourne, at the Exchange Hall, Wellington, on Monday Evening, 3rd February, 1890, under the Auspices of the Wellington Horticultural and Florists' Society; J. R. Blair, Esq., J.P. (Chairman of the Education Board), in the Chair.
Mr. Spawn prefaced his address by explaining the mode of farming in the United States of America. He divided the States into five districts, and described the mode of farming in each, giving some interesting details as to "working-bees," which are got up by the farmers for their mutual assistance. Continuing his remarks, Mr. Spawn said,—
We come now to the Pacific Coast, the fruit-growing country of America. As you travel along by the railway you will find orchards for miles and miles on both sides of you. There they are, in valleys that only a few years ago were wheat-fields, and the farmers hardly making a living. San Joaquin Valley—what was that twelve years ago? A few people trying to grow wheat on a large scale, and a number of thousands or hundreds of thousands of acres of land devoted to stock—feeding a few big-horned Texas cattle or shaggy sheep, and producing next to nothing. Gradually the people went in for fruit-growing, and what is the result? Why, there is a city there now, where only a few years ago there was a blacksmith's shop, a hotel, and a "one-horse" store. That city—the City of Fresno—has nearly ten thousand inhabitants. They load trains of cars with raisins and send them across the continent. Last year they sent over 5,000,000lb. to the Eastern States. A few car-loads of those raisins went to Europe, with grand success, and a great quantity came to Australia and this colony. Then, there is Los Angeles—what a country that is! Look what it was a few years ago! In Riverside, California, there are orchards that are paying the growers £30, £50, and up to £100 an acre; the latter are the page 2 old orange-groves. Peaches, apricots, prune plums, and so on, are paying growers from £30 to £50 a year per acre; and the growers sending fruit to canning-establishments, mind you, at 2 cents a pound. Here, some say, they would not pick it up for 2 cents a pound. I can sec the trouble here: there are not enough orchards, and they are not large enough. There is one man in California that holds 1,300 acres of orchard. That man I remember well when he was a wheat-farmer. He had made a little money in mining—about §8,000, I think—and so he bought a wheat-farm up in Suisun Valley, and went growing wheat, lie found he was losing his $8,000 pretty fast. On his land he had five or six pear trees that were loaded with fruit every year, and when he came to figure it up he found that He took more money off them than he did off five acres of wheat. "Well," he said to himself, "that's pretty good; I believe I'll go into fruit-growing;" and he did, and is now one of the wealthiest men in California, holding 1,300 acres. I know another man that quitted wheat-fanning for fruitgrowing. He got his first fruit trees in this way: he put three hogs in a wagon, and a cow behind, and traded the lot for fruit trees. Last year he dried 51 tons of apricots on his place; If I had all the apricots grown in Australia I am satisfied it would not make that much, because it takes 5lb. of fresh fruit to make 1lb. of dried. Last year I offered 2d. a pound for apricots delivered at any railway-station in Victoria, and I only got about 2¾ tons. In California they grow the apricots, carry them to the canning- and preserving-works, and sell them at 1d. per pound—and get rich. As to the quantity of fruit grown there, last year they shipped 40,000,000lb. of fresh fruit across to the Eastern States, to say nothing of oranges; some 25,000,000lb. of dried fruit; and I forget exactly the number of cases of preserved fruit—an immense quantity.
Now, all this has been brought about in a few years. I hear some people say in Australia (and no doubt they will say it in New Zealand), "If we all fall in with Spawn's ideas and grow fruit, what are we to do with it? There is more now than we can use." Well, that was the case in California. Everybody thought when people were starting these orchards that they would overdo it, but it was no such thing. More fruit has been consumed; it has been put upon the market, so that everybody can buy and preserve it. Besides that, it has been sent overland to the Eastern States, and shipped in this direction, and in page 3 that way the fruit-market has been widely increased. I have no doubt you will see the day in New Zealand and Australia when you will be sending, at certain times of the year, certain kinds of fruit to America. If this proposed line of steamers is ever put on to Vancouver's Island it is going to open up a good market for you for certain varieties of fruit, because you have your season when we have not got any fruit. Many things will come about that you little dream of now that will furnish a market for fruit, fresh and preserved.
When I first came to Australia I heard a great deal of the fruit country, especially at Melbourne, and when 1 went out into the country to look for it myself I found little patches of gardens with about fruit enough to supply one good Yankee family. I mention these things to show you that more attention should be paid to the fruit-growing industry. In Victoria, where I have started the industry, people see for themselves that there is a market for their fruit, and they have not got to depend upon commission men for handling the fruit, and for putting such a price on it that poor people cannot afford to buy it for winter use. To provide a way of preserving fruit—some unexpensive way—I invented an evaporator. Canning-establishments, of course, mean a deal of money, and unless you can get larger quantities of fruit in one centre you cannot make a success; and you must get it at a reasonable price.
When I found all these things out I determined to make the thing a success, and so I put up my appliances—the evaporator, a machine which I will show you in working-order in a day or two. The evaporator process simply takes the water out of the fruit and vegetables, and by putting them into cold water again restores it, so that for cooking purposes you do not know the difference between evaporated and fresh fruit and vegetables. I believe there are a great many people in this hall who can tell you that, for I brought 350 packages of apples, &c., with me from Australia, and gave most of them away, and the people who used them say the apples are quite as good as fresh fruit. All this may be done by cheap labour (mostly boys and girls), and it is a great saving over canning, packing, and soldering. Here is a box of apricots I did at Napier in four hours. One pound of that is equal to 5lb. of fresh fruit for cooking or for stewing. In the ordinary 2lb. tin of canned fruit you really do not get much over 1lb.; the rest is syrup. These apples were also page 4 done at Napier, in two hours and ten minutes. They look good enough. In doing apples we make a great saving in this way: the peels and cores are used for making vinegar—and a splendid wholesome vinegar it makes. Then there is the pulp—after we have made eider of it we use the pulp to feed hogs with. Wherever there is a plant for preserving it must be somewhere in a country district, near fruit orchards, and where you will be allowed to have a paddock to keep pigs, so that you can utilise the waste from vegetables and fruit. These are grapes done in twelve hours in Victoria last year.
These are sultana grape raisins, quinces, pears, peaches, figs, and prune plums. These raspberries were not done out here but were sent out to me by my uncle in New York State. I have introduced them in Victoria, and a few in New Zealand—Napier and Christchurch. It is the black raspberry, similar to the red raspberry, only being more fleshy, and not having as many seeds; it stands handling better, and is one of the best, drying berries in America. If you dry the red raspberry it is nothing but seeds. This one is a much nicer berry in every way; it does not grow such long stalks, or as many thorns. It is more like the gooseberry bush, and for this climate and district it is one of the most profitable fruits you can grow. These vegetables are used for soup, Irish stews, and so on; they are carrots, parsnips, turnips, potatoes, &c. They will keep for any length of time. There is the pumpkin (dried), largely used for cooking in the winter, as well as for our most excellent dish—pumpkin-pie. These potatoes—put them in cold water for a little while and you would not know they had ever been dried. The fruit and vegetables that have been evaporated are put into packages as you see them, and are kept neat and clean until you want to use them.
Coming back to this district—I was surprised to hear people talking about the codlin-moth; saying, for instance, "It has ruined the fruit-market, and it is no use any one undertaking the industry." I saw an orchard out at the Hutt on Saturday with this kind of fruit in it. This is a very fine sample. The trees, I reckoned, averaged about 4cwt. of fruit to the tree. Taking that fruit at 1d. per pound, and putting the trees about 20ft. apart—108 to the acre—figure out what that would be per acre, and these trees were less than 20ft. apart. There is a very nice apple I brought from Napier. I made a little estimate about those apples. Taking 1cwt. to the tree, at 1d. page 5 per pound—and if I had my plant here, as I have in Melbourne, I should be glad to buy the whole orchard—that is only £108 an acre. I tell the people: put out orchards here; go in for fruit growing, and sell your fruit for id. a pound, and there is £70 an acre. There is no reason why you should take it all at that value. I do not say that you will get 4cwt. every year; we must take the good with the bad; so in all countries. We do not get large crops every year, but we have different varieties of fruit, and if one fails we have got another; so that we make money every year. In that way the Eastern farmers, of whom I told you, taking butter, eggs, corn, oats, potatoes, vegetables, &c., to market—always taking something—if the price falls for one thing, make it up in another.
Now, as to the varieties of fruit best suited to this soil and climate as near as I can sec. For this industry it is advisable to have as few varieties as you can, and have them good. Apples I believe to be one of the most profitable fruits you can go in for in this district. With proper processes in packing and preserving there is as much money in sending fruit to England as there is in sending mutton. You have large ships leaving here; you have a good climate; everything in your favour; yet you are importing apples from California and Tasmania. For this business the apple is one of the best fruits. The grower should plant very few varieties of early apples, but put in late ones, such as the Ribstone pippin, the russet, and other late, good-keeping apples. And then, with this industry in your midst, all the common fruit, windfalls, &c., can be evaporated, and the choice, that is not required for your home market, can be sent to England, and I will guarantee it a good investment. The prune plum is another variety that I think will do well here. What I saw of plums in Napier was something astonishing. I saw a branch off a plum tree that was 14in. long, and not much thicker than my finger; it held 5lb. of plums, hanging to the branch like wreaths. The last Sunday I was at Napier I went out to gather a little fruit to evaporate for a lunch that was to he given at the Criterion Hotel there—a lunch in which everything was colonial—frozen mutton, beef, fish, and fruit and vegetables evaporated by me—and a great success it was. Well, I was out looking for fruit, and a lady very kindly allowed me to go under the plum trees and pick up some plums. In the way of conversation I asked her what she got for her plums. She said 1d. to 1½d. per pound in Napier. I said, "Could you page 6 grow plums and sell your orchard at ½d. a pound?" "Oh, no!" she said. "Well, now," I asked her, "how many pounds of plums are there on this tree?" She did not know, but she agreed there was fully 300lb. I picked up 121b. that had dropped to the ground. As soon as the plums got ripe a lot of them were crowded and fell. I said 300lb. at 1d. would be £1 5s. a tree. The trees were about 12ft. apart (though I recommend that they should be 20ft. apart)—108 trees to the acre, 1d. a pound, 61 5s. a tree; that was only .6135 per acre. I asked her whether it would not pay her if she put an empty paddock at the back into prune plums, and in six years they gave 300lb. to the tree, to sell for ½d. Oh, yes! she said, if she had a good many trees. That is it—only a few trees, and you cannot do anything. You want to put them in by the acre, and the pre-serving-works will buy the lot, and pay you in one big cheque. It is feasible enough when you can get people to understand it. If your trees give 200lb. each, and I buy your orchard at ½d. per pound, it would be £645 per acre. "Oh!" but some people will say, "see how long I have got to wait before I get anything. I may be dead before the trees bear." "Then," I say, "your children will have the money." "Oh! plague on the children," says the man, " I don't care; let them work, the same as I have."
In this industry you can grow vegetables in between your young fruit trees, and get a crop the first year. Take onions, for instance: I reduce a sack of onions down to 14lb. weight, and send them to Queensland and other places. Put the 14lb. into water and they have got a bag of onions. I will prove that to you if they do not object to the smell where I have my evaporator. So you see there is a good deal of money in this business of fruit-growing. With proper machinery and appliances, and suitable fruit, in six or eight hours there is your fruit ready for the market. You have some idea of the quantity of fruit imported here—prunes, for instance. Go to the store and buy prunes, and what do they cost you?—[A voice: "3s. 6d."]—Well, they can be sold here at 6d. a pound, and then give a good big profit. Now, as to vegetables. Last year you could hardly get a decent head of cabbage in Melbourne under 8d., and I have paid 1s. But take them at 6d., as they have been for the last two years—you can put out 10,890 to the acre.—that is, £272 5s. for an acre of cabbages. I believe you can grow cabbages here. As to carrots: last year I bought page 7 one man's stock at £3 a ton, which brought him in £43 an acre for carrots. I just mention that to show you what there is in this industry if established in your midst.
I know Napier best, because I have been there for the last eight or ten days. It is all sheep-farming up there. Now, I do not mean to say that you should give up sheep-farming; it is a good thing—loading ships here with frozen mutton is a grand thing—but work fruit-growing in with it, in some of the land near the towns. You may work little farms on the American principle, as I tried to describe it to you, in along with the big sheep farms. In this colony take a sheep farm of 2,000 acres—and I believe it takes very good land to carry six sheep to the acre—that 2,000 acres will be held by one family. Now, take the 2,000 acres and put twenty families on it—100 acres each. This is my idea of the farm: 3 acres for the house, kitchen-garden, barn, stable, stockyard, fowlhouse, pigpens, and so forth; 10 acres orchard, with a few of each of the good varieties suited for soil and climate; 7 acres to vegetables—turnips, parsnips, carrots, onions, and others suitable to the district and industry—because you will be sure of a market; 10 acres corn, pumpkins—say, 3 acres to sweet corn—that is, the sweet maize that we boil and eat green, and for this industry of evaporation it is a grand thing, and one of the finest articles a grocer man can sell over his counter in the winter. Then you will have grand material for evaporating, and with the rest you can feed stock. The sweet corn, as I say, is a grand thing, and you can put away the stalks and husks to feed stock on in winter, when feed is short. I would give 3d. a dozen for the ears of sweet corn now. Then there would be 10 acres in wheat, 10 acres in oats, 10 acres in hay, and 10 acres in lucerne, and three 10-acre paddocks for pasturing. These three paddocks, managed properly, and changing the stock from one to the other, would carry three hundred to four hundred sheep. The stock is put in in the spring, when the grass is good. By-and-by your hay, oats, &c., is cut, and here you have your 10 acres of lucerne to feed the stock occasionally; and after harvest you have very nearly the whole of this acreage for pasturing. That is how it is carried on in Vermont, Maine, and New Hampshire, and I venture to say that the farms there of 100 acres will carry stock just as I tell you. And in that way you reduce the risk of losses. There may be some drawbacks, of course, through wet or dry seasons; but, as to drought, I saw beautiful artesian page 8 wells in Napier that only cost from £9 to £12 for a fine 2in. stream of water. I think the system I have sketched would be a good one. Instead of one family growing sheep on large farms, I think it would he a great benefit if a number of families were put on to small holdings of well-cultivated land. I have a paper here that I read before the Fruit-growers' Convention in Melbourne. When Mr. Dow (Minister of Lands) called this convention, delegates from each of the horticultural societies in the colony having been invited to confer as to what could be done to advance the fruit-growing industry, I was asked to prepare a paper on the fruit-growing industry of Victoria, which I did, and, as it is right to the point, and brings out a good many points that I may not have thought of this evening, it will be interesting to you to hear it. Of course, where I say Victoria you must substitute New Zealand:—
"The calling of this convention of fruit-growers from the different parts of your colony is a very important step to advance this grand industry. I believe that under the influence of your glorious climate and your good soil, with combined energy and perseverance, the possibilities of the fruit industry in Victoria are beyond your most sanguine expectations. In this brief way and time I shall not be able to refer to all the products and advantages of this wonderful industry, or the various avenues that are likely to open for the disposal of the many fruits, nuts, and vegetables that can be successfully grown in Victoria. I see no reason why Victoria in a few years should not be able to compete with any other part of the world. I have not the slightest doubt but that your delegates all represent the garden-spot of Victoria, and that each one of you lives in the finest climate and the very best part of your colony. I have, as yet, only visited portions of it, but I see great room for improvements in fruit, vegetable-growing, and general farming. It has always been a wonder to me to see a country like this, with, I believe, a million inhabitants, producing so little. This gathering and others that have come under my notice during the past year, are proof that the people of Victoria are waking up to the importance of making better use of their beautiful country. The soil is no doubt the prime source of your wealth, and should be so utilised as to yield its highest and best results. There is no enterprise a man can embark in that affords such certain-paying profits as the fruitgrowing industry. See the different possibilities there are in page 9 it—green fruit, evaporated fruit, canned fruit, crystallized fruit, jellies, jams, marmalades, pickled fruit, and candied fruits. That there can be great improvement in this industry nobody will deny, and to bring it about your watchword must ever be 'Onward and upward,' and falter not. Although difficulties arise, he who will may overcome them. You must be enterprising fruit-growers, filled with a spirit that no power on earth can curb. If destructive insects make their appearance in your orchard, exterminate them. If a dry season comes, be prepared to irrigate. Study well the care and want of your trees. Grow only first-class fruit. Put it on the market in neat, suitable packages. Increase your acres to what you can properly and well care for. Do not fear a little competition from your brother countryman in a neighbouring colony; be satisfied with a fair return, and allow none to go to waste. Do not always look on the dark side, and continually find fault with the weather or something else beyond your control, but rather look about you, and see how much happiness you can get out of life, and how much you can impart to others. I have been in your colony something over three years, over two of which have been entirely devoted to the advancing of this industry. I have worked hard and faithfully, as many of you know; and I see, now that progress is being made, more interest is being taken every day. I believe it is only a question of a few years when Victoria will be rated as a first-class fruitgrowing State, and that the hundreds of thousands of pounds of money that annually go out of your colony to foreign countries for preserved fruit and vegetables will not only be kept at home, but you will be able to reverse this state of affairs, and have a much larger amount coming into the colony from the proceeds of your exports. The large number of land-greedy farmers, with their large holdings, and only cultivating a portion, and that always to wheat—not even growing fruit and vegetables for their own tables, either being supplied by a Chinaman or going without—should be a thing of the past. To bring this about these farmers must be taught a few lessons in general farming on small holdings, well cultivated, the same as in America, with all the varieties of grain, fruit, nuts, and vegetables this colony is capable of producing. This change can be brought about, with thousands .added to the present number. Many I hear say, "What are we going to do with such quantities of fruit? there will be an over-production." page 10 I say, there is no danger of over-production of fine large fruit of choice varieties. There has been over-production of fruit from orchards which have been allowed to care for themselves, the product of which is simply an act of nature guided by the hand of Providence. There is no question upon which there is a wider range of opinion than as to the proper amount of land that can be handled by one man with the best and most profitable results.
"I do not believe any country shows the extreme limits of this question as much as does Australia. Here can be found the man who makes a failure of farming upon a farm of 1,000 acres, and close by his side can be found the fruit- and vegetable-grower who makes a good living, and a handsome sum besides, every year, from the cultivation of 10 acres. Hundreds of farmers can be found in your colony who will roundly declare that they are unable to support their families upon so small a farm as even 300 acres. One has but to travel through the grain-growing portion of your colony to sec any number of cases of semi-starvation going on upon farms far larger than 300 acres. There is many a land-greedy farmer to-day who finds it difficult to make both ends meet one year with another upon 1,000 acres of land. The solution of this question depends entirely upon the nature of the man who is engaged in solving it. The thousand-acre farmer thinks he can never be brought down to such small operations as the carrying-on of a farm of 10 or 20 acres; he thinks such work altogether beneath his dignity; and so he goes on, year after year, running deeper and deeper in debt, getting a few good crops and a good many poor ones. He finally is tired of farming; his sons want to go to the city; his daughters want to learn a trade—dressmaking or tailoring; his wife looks dragged out, as though she would welcome death as a day of rest: all because the master undertook to do too much. It would be a very uncommon thing to hear of a farmer with 10 or 20 acres of good varieties of bearing fruit trees becoming discouraged and tired of his occupation. In California there are no more prosperous communities in the world than those settlements where fruit-growing is the leading industry, and the average holding does not exceed 20 acres. There is plenty of money, and all the accompaniments of a prosperous state of affairs are found, in the way of fine comfortable houses, good horses, and all those things which go to page 11 make life enjoyable and happy. If there is any one thing which the experience of the last twenty years has proven beyond a doubt in California it is that the small farmer, if he be prudent, can command success, while the large farmer often meets with disaster. The fruit industry of that country—similar to yours as to climate and soil—shipped overland to the Eastern States in 1888 43,681,180lb. of fresh fruit, not including oranges, of which there were 1,200,000 boxes, besides supplying an immense Home demand; dried fruits (except raisins), 26,000,000lb.; raisins, 1,250,000 boxes, 20lb. each, 25,000,000lb. As it takes 3½lb. of grapes to make 1lb. of raisins, the amount of fresh fruit must have been 87,500,000lb.; value to the growers, at 3d. per pound, £312,500. 550,000 boxes of the above was produced from Fresno County: the yield from this county, owing to new vineyards coming into bearing this year, is safely estimated at 800,000 boxes. Fifteen years ago 1,500,000 acres of this county was a treeless plain, portions of which was producing a few bushels of wheat to the acre, and feeding a very limited number of big-horned cattle and shaggy sheep, and now it is one of the wealthiest and finest gardens of California. The raisin yield for this year for the State will be 1,500,000 boxes. In the past four years £6,000,000 sterling has been invested in land-irrigation enterprise, increasing the value of land from ten-to fifty-fold. The taxable valuation has increased at the rate of £20,000,000 a year. There is over double the acreage of land under cultivation now than in 1883. In 1880 the population was 864,694; in 1887, 1,400,000. The commercial standing of this fruit-growing State in 1888 was—Deposits in savings-banks, £15,543,706; commercial and National banks, £30,230,304; value of manufactured products, £43,000,000; miles of railways, 3,764: total State debt, £67,900. These are plain facts, largely due to the fruit-growing industry. The farmers of Australia, it looks to me, are going through the same stage of development that have marked the history of agriculture in California. Each had its mining excitement, which, in turn, to a great extent, gave place to stock-growing. Great portions of each country was supposed to be unfitted for anything else. It was not believed that crops of any kind could be successfully grown; but in time the stock range began to give place to the wheat-field, and the two countries cut a large figure in the world's supply of breadstuffs. But here, as it was in California, after page 12 awhile grain-growing becomes a precarious dependence; so small was the margin for profit left by the constantly-declining prices that the farmers began looking about for other more profitable pursuits. These they found in the cultivation of fruit, nuts, &c., by the means of irrigation; and, as I have said, the climates being very much alike, there is no good reason why Australia should not produce all varieties of fruit and nuts as readily, in as large a quantity, and with as much profit as California. My advice is, you will do well to follow your American cousin's example. Therefore the rural gospel of small land-holdings, well cultivated, should be spread abroad in your colony, which is a land of sunshine and brightness, blessed with plenty, hope, and peace, with room for thousands of families to make beautiful homes and become rich from all of earth's increase."
Now, before I conclude, I want to tell you something about fruit colonies. They have taken that up in Victoria, and it is receiving great encouragement. I have recently formed one at Goulburn Valley, Melbourne, of families who knew nothing at all about fruit-growing. From a lecture I gave at the Working-men's Club on that particular subject, showing what could be done with 10 acres, the idea of this colony was taken. I will read you a few lines taken from that lecture, which, I might tell you, they had published:—
"The following was quoted by Mr. Spawn in his lecture, 'The Coming Industry for Victoria, and what to do with our Boys.' At that time he proposed a scheme to form colonies of a number of families for fruit- and vegetable-growing, and locate them in the various country districts of Victoria, as there is no branch of industry to which that system may he more successfully applied than to fruit- and vegetable-growing. To begin, the land required for a colony may be purchased by a number of persons acting in concert at from 25 to 50 per cent, less than the price at which a small tract could be obtained by an individual. Then, the preparing of the land and the planting may be carried out very economically, and those who wish may continue their regular occupation at home until their land begins to pay a profit. Co-operation is not an experiment or anything new: it has been fully tried, and not found wanting in any particular, in California. The advantages are almost too numerous to mention. Working-men in moderate circumstances joining such a colony would in a few years have beauti- page 13 ful homes, all paid for, with steady incomes, and be good citizens—respectable substantial men.
"When a number of families settle thus side by side, churches, schools, post-offices, and stores follow rapidly as a matter of course, and other improvements are brought about which would not be the case were the same number of settlers more widely scattered. A trading centre is sure to spring up in the vicinity, which affords a ready market for butter, eggs, milk, poultry, small fruits, vegetables, &c. When the fruit begins to ripen the greatest benefits of co-operation become evident, for in colonies large quantities of fruit will be produced, and encourage fruit- and vegetable-preserving establishments being started, thus affording a home market, which the isolated settler is debarred from enjoying, and consequently is often obliged to allow fruit to go to waste which would have paid him hundreds of pounds had he but been located in a colony. Thus it is a very plain proposition or plan whereby a number of persons unite energies, muscle, brains, and money for the good of all, according to the service rendered or money spent. In union there is strength.
"It is by concert in industrial operations that wealth arises rather than from isolated individual exertions. The working-man is the principal instrument in creating wealth, and he ought therefore to get a reasonable share of it, which he will if he joins a fruit-growing colony. Such colonies would greatly relieve the great and constantly-growing evils of centralisation, and would, no doubt, tend to divert attention from the greatly overgrown City of Melbourne to develop the; great and natural resources of the country," &c.
This is a pretty broad subject for an hour and a half, and there are a good many things I should have liked to mention. One is the blight, &c., on fruit trees. With the modern appliances that we have now, that is something you need not fear. I have seen some orchards badly infested that I would guarantee to clean with my spray pump and a preparation I use, and do the trees good at the same time. There is the codlin-moth, for instance. In Victoria the year before last in some orchards 85 per cent, of the fruit had grubs in it; last year, after proper instructions had been followed, 95 per cent, of their apples were free from grub. If the industry is started you will have the benefit of all these appliances.
These boxes you see here are for handling fruit. You page 14 can all grow fruit, but the important thing is to market it. These packages can he made as well here as in Melbourne. This ease holds thirty-six of those small baskets. The baskets are taken into the garden and picked full of strawberries, raspberries, and such delicate fruit, and they set in the case, as you see, undisturbed, and not bruised in any way. In America you will find all grocers selling fruit in these packages. All the fruit for family use is bought from the grocer, and here it should be the same; so that you would have to pay the grocer-man's margin only. These baskets are for grapes, cherries, and so on. Some people say that if you fill that and put it on the railway by the time the train got to town the basket would be empty. Well, if the people on the railway are dishonest, maybe that will be so at first, but you can teach them to he honest. We have done it in California, and the railway employes there dare not put their fingers in. If they are seen, off go their heads; they lose their billets at once. In handling fruit also you must be careful; you must handle it properly. A sure guard against pilfering is to tie the box round with string and seal it with wax. These packages I show you can be made here just as well as anywhere else, because you have plenty of timber; and then you can send your fruit anywhere without any danger or trouble. These baskets here are for apricots and pears. I have seen trains of thirty or forty of those large American carriages coming into New Jersey City loaded with these baskets, and you would not find a bad peach or pear in the whole lot. They have false boards in the railway-cars for the baskets to rest on. In the fruit season in New York City you will see hundreds and thousands of business men hurrying home with baskets of peaches on their arms. They have come in plentiful, and a basket like that will sell for 3s. or 4s. each. If there is a large quantity in the market down goes the price—there is nothing wasted. The baskets are made in different sizes—half a bushel, a peck, and so on—and you will find them holding plums, apples, peaches, or apricots.
The Premier: What is the cost of them?
Mr. Spawn: I do not know what they would be here; but coming from America, and paying 25 per cent, duty, I can sell them in Victoria at 10d.
The Premier: And the boxes [containing rows of small boxes for delicate fruit]?
Mr. Spawn: 9s. each, paying 25 per cent, duty and a heavy page 15 freight. I dare say they could be sold here at 5s. or 6s. and give a good profit, because a good deal of the wood is waste lumber from the mills. The baskets of fruit you can purchase in America on your way home. This is the colonial fruit-basket [holding up a brown-paper bag], Nice thing to carry strawberries or raspberries in. There is a little machine for paring apples, and another for paring stone-fruit. You will notice that the apple-pearer takes off the peel, removes the core, and slices the fruit. Now, I have no doubt many of you, as you meet each other in the street to-morrow, and talk about what Spawn said here, will say, "This cannot be done," or "That cannot be done," and talk like that. I do not know what you call those sort of people, but 1 call them "croakers." You find them wherever you go—in America and everywhere else. I believe they always have been here on earth, and they are always finding fault. Even in the days of Noah, when he was safely housed in his Ark, there were a lot of that sort going around with the water up to their necks, and saying that Noah was a fool; it was only a little shower, and it would not last long. There is no doubt that if this fruit-growing industry is taken up properly in New Zealand it will be one of the greatest things ever done for it, because you have a splendid market, and you need not fear competition. Some people say, "Oh! we cannot compete with America." I say you can. If you do not know how, get some smart Yankees out to show you. If you go into fruit-growing here you can sell the fruit here, in Australia, and in Europe. A great part of the fruit grown east of the Rocky Mountains, in America, is consumed at home; but from the thousands of acres in California is where the export is made. Now, they have to send their fruit 3,300 miles—from San Francisco to New York—by rail, and you know it costs money to travel over 3,300 miles of railroad, especially when there are ever so many different companies owning the railroads. Then the fruit has got to be transferred to ships at New York to be sent to London. Here you arc, with splendid ships leaving your wharves, and large steamers going direct to London docks; and I say those vessels can afford to carry your preserved fruit to London cheaper than those railways can carry fruit from San Francisco to New York. That alone ought to convince you that you have got a good market. Look at the market you have got in India! Then, again, you may have a variety here that will be short in Australia. Why, I have bought apricots from Tasmania, evaporated them, and sent page 16 them back to the Tasmanians. I do not say they will stand that sort of thing long. But when there is a scarcity of, say, apples in Australia—which is not as good an apple country as this or Tasmania—your market becomes a splendid one. On the other hand, they may sometimes be able to supply you with apricots or peaches. So, taking your colony and Australia together, I say you have both splendid opportunities, and you will see the day when you can send certain fruits to America—lemons, for instance, which you can grow in the north of this colony, and which will be scarce in Canada at the very time you are producing them. When you get the Vancouver route you will be able to supply them. Again, if this industry goes ahead you can use your laud to the best advantage.
It is getting late, and I will not detain you longer. I shall be very pleased to see you to-morrow, or the day after, when I get the evaporator set up at the Phoenix Buildings, on Lambton Quay. I want you to see that I have come here not to give you the pudding-string to chew, but to give you some of the pudding.
Resolutions were passed as follows—
On the motion of Mr. W. T. L. Travers, seconded by Mr. C. F. Richmond, "That this meeting desires to thank Mr. Spawn for his interesting lecture, and to urge upon the people of this colony the importance of fruit-growing as a means for adding materially to its wealth and prosperity."
On the motion of Mr. T. Kennedy Macdonald, seconded by Mr. R. S. Hawkins, "That a committee be appointed to investigate details of Mr. Spawn's inventions, and make the necessary business arrangements for the manufacture and working of them in the colony; such committee to consist of Messrs. W. T. L. Travers, J. R. Blair, J. Wallace, J. H. Cock, R. S. Hawkins, C. F. Richmond, T. J. W. Gale, the mover, and such other gentlemen as the meeting may appoint."
By Authority: G. Didsbury. Government Printer, Wellington.—1890.