|Thursday, February 23, 1933, Vol. 44, No. 50
|The Stouffville Tribune
|Page 1, col. 3
Putting dignity in menial turnip
Toronto develops a taste for turnips—Blackwater plant buys all winter filling orders
How would you like to wash turnips for a living? And having washed them, trim the ends, pin a label on them, do each end in melted paraffin, then sell them as "Rutabagas"? Fussy foolishness eh.
But isn't it pleasanter work doing it inside on a stormy winter's day, especially when you don't have to touch the turnips by hand to wash them, than it is thinning them with a hose or pulling and topping them on a frosty morning."
Of course they have to be thinned and pulled in any case but if there is more money to be made in washing and waxing than there is in the hosing and pulling why not hoe and pull half as many and spend the extra time in washing and trimming?
Blackwater Junction is a small crossroads, centre of half-a-dozen houses on Highway No. 7, some 20 miles from Stouffville. It has one new building; of which the basement is just a glorified root cellar. But that new building and the enterprising manager operating it is creating a market for the farmers of that vicinity just as surely as the Simcoe cold storage plant is for the Norfolk apple growers or Georgian Bay packing plants for the orchardists of that district.
Here's the story! The Blackwater Turnip Growers Association have washed, picked and shipped, through that building, 30 carloads of table turnips this year and have orders in sight for 27,000 bushels of waxed turnips for delivery between now and the first of May. More orders than they have turnips available to fill of the strict quality they required to meet the high class trader they have established.
Mr. J. H. Purvis, manager of the plant, says they will ship at least three carloads of these turnips every two weeks for the remainder of the season to supply Toronto's taste for turnips.
The building and equipment at Blackwater cost $5300, of which the Ontario Departure of Agriculture advanced $2500. It is being paid for by a deduction of one cent per bushel from the returns of each shipment, sufficient with the present volume of business to pay for the building in ten years. Built at the side of a steep hill, between a roadway and the railroad tracks, it is a building 70 ft.×28 ft., three stories high at the tracks, but the turnips enter the top story on a level with the road. They are stored in bins in the basement after passing over the weigh scale; worked from these bins through slatted, revolving open drum, about one-third full of a slowly flowing steam of water, for washing, then elevated to the top floor for trimming, labelling and waxing. They are then packed in 50 lbs sacks and finally lowered down a side into the freight cars. On the way up the elevator from the washing drum a steam of water is played over them from a hose to remove all final traces of dirt. There is no scrubbing by hand.
Seven men are able to wash , wax and label 250 to 300 bushels a day. At the outside an added cost of 10 cents a bushel over the cost of loading a car of unwashed turnips, f.o.b., Blackwater station. And the labelled turnips with the high sounding name, are bringing at least 20 cents a bushel greater return, and those that are rejected can be used for stock feed at home instead of paying freight on them to market where they are not wanted and cannot be used.
Are there many rejects? Due to the development of the root maggot there have been a lot this year, the average run ranging from 15 to 30 per cent. because of the worm injury and water core. With the 115 farmers who are under contract to supply turnips to the Blackwater plant 5 acres is about the average product and 400 bushels of saleable turnips is a good yield. But Mr. Purvis reported on man had sold 900 bushels off 2 cares and claimed the $90 he received for them was the nicest bit of money he had this year from the whole farm.