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Fitzgerald's Town

A provisional committee

A provisional committee was appointed to formulate rules and to suggest the best place or places for club meetings. The first general meeting of the club was held at Lincoln in September 1871. Rules drawn up by an interim committee were adopted and of these Rule No. 17 enshrined the objectives of the club 11 . These were To promote discussion on subjects connected with agriculture; the encouragement of agriculture in general; breeding and general management of stock; the encouragement of local industries; construction of farm buildings; the manufacture and improvement of implements; planting of trees; draining, and general management of land; the advancement of farming interests by combined political action, but with the proviso that no club funds were to be devoted to political purposes. This last, the subject of considerable debate, was eventually accepted and was certainly used when it came to lobbying provincial or central government in 15. The Revd. A.P. O’Callaghan, farmer and politician. Courtesy Alexander Turnbull Library – Ref. 1158. the interests of the farming community. At this meeting a large representative committee was elected as follows: President: A.C. Knight; Vice-president: A.P. O’Callaghan; Treasurer and Secretary: J. Stanley Bruce (an engineer then working for the Springs Road Board); Committee: S. Bailey, William Craighead, Andrew Dawson, George Dalton, David Dun, James Gammack, William Goodwin, E.H. Hudson, Joseph Haydon, Walter Lawry, Francis Lawrey, John Murray, W.H. Peryman, George Smith, William Tod, J.N. Tosswill, William Watson, Richard Wright and Henry White. Mr Jacobson, the Lincoln school master, was appointed auditor for the year. At first the club pursued its objectives with enthusiasm and included lectures by members and others, who spoke on topics designed to improve farming standards in the district. The first, by President A.C. Knight, dealt with “The breed and management of sheep” 12 followed by A.P. O’Callaghan who asked whether thick or thin sowing was best adapted to Canterbury conditions 13 . 44

James Gammack discussed the influence trees “exercise on the climate of a country”, and his views, the subject of an editorial 14 in the Lyttelton Times, were well received. The editorial concluded that although his remarks are homely…they are none the less valuable and timely, and we trust the Lincoln and other farmers’ clubs in the province will enjoy the privilege of listening to many a similar collection of truisms, drawn from the storehouse of practical wisdom. Later in the year J.N. Tosswill 15 spoke on the system of farming best adapted to Canterbury conditions and which would do least harm to soil fertility for the best return. In his opinion the strategy to follow was to alternate pasture with crops. Under this regime there could be no serious objection to growing wheat, and then oats and barley, over a period of two years before laying down pasture for three years. Alternatively, turnips could be grown for one year followed by two years in grass and red clover. He was convinced that a more balanced use of the land in place of repeated cropping would give farmers the satisfaction of knowing that they had done their duty “as stewards and trustees of the farmlands of this young country for the benefit of posterity”, a comment familiar to us all! W.H. Peryman 16 wanted to see an agricultural training school established in Canterbury so as to raise standards, to combat the numerous examples of slovenly farming that characterised the industry, and to make New Zealand one of the best agricultural countries in the world. He noted that there were several agricultural schools in Great Britain embracing a wide range of subjects and he hoped that a similar institution would become part of the education system in New Zealand. Mr. Peryman was adding local support to a concept put forward in 1853 by J.E. FitzGerald, first Superintendent of Canterbury Province, in his inaugural address to the Provincial Council and which became reality as the School of Agriculture in 1877. A veterinary surgeon, John Hill, spoke on “Parturient apoplexy and milk fever in cows”. This paper 17 was well received and in moving a vote of thanks A. P. O’Callaghan “thought it was remarkably kind of a professional man to give such valuable information”, a statement which reveals something of the standing of professional people in a rural community at that time. This paper, and another on farm accounting by E.W. Trent were the only two presented in 1873 and indeed appear to have been the last delivered at meetings of the Lincoln Farmers’ Club. 45

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