This article appeared in the City of Dayton Annual Report for 1942, pages 118-119
Farm Products Feed Prisoners
James W. Russell
The Workhouse farm is located off the Germantown Pike just south of New Chicago in Jefferson Township. In addition to the Workhouse farm land, 145 acres were rented for cultivation with prison labor.
Proper feeding of prisoners on plain, substantial food, giving a balanced diet, became quite a problem in 1942. During the year navy beans could not be purchased, sugar was rationed fifty per cent, meat was hard to get, syrup could no longer be purchased in metal containers, barrel syrup was hard to find, and a coffee shortage developed. With a twenty per cent increase in prisoners, the war was plainly felt at the Workhouse.
Prisoners are to be worked and must be fed. If they are to be fed, the food must be produced by their own labor. Farm products raised during 1942 fed the prisoners, and indirectly helped out in the war effort.
Ten acres of navy beans were grown as an experiment with a total yield of 120 bushels. Out of 150 bushels of mangoes, 898 gallons were canned and the remainder used in season. Two hundred five bushels of beets were grown and 542 gallons were canned. Fresh beets were served during the summer and the remaining beets were buried for use in the winter. Five hundred thirty-five bushels of onions for winter use were stored away and 2,923 dozen green onions appeared frequently on the menu during the spring and summer. Three thousand seventy-six heads of cabbage were grown. Thirty barrels of sauerkraut were made for winter use. This was an increase of 13 barrels over last year. Six hundred pounds of lettuce and 2,154 dozen radishes were grown and served to prisoners. One thousand eighty-two bushels of tomatoes were picked and 4,178 gallons were canned. The remainder was served fresh in season. One thousand six dozen ears of sweet corn were served on the menu. Out of 418 bushels of green beans raised, 4,574 gallons were canned and the remainder was served in season along with tomatoes. Two dozen cucumbers were grown and served to prisoners. On hundred eighty-five bushels of carrots were dug [p. 118] and these were buried for use in making vegetable soup. Boiled turnips seasoned with fresh pork were served during the fall and the remainder of the 200 bushels raised were buried for winter use. Two thousand twenty-three bushels of potatoes were grown. This was an increase of 323 bushels over the 1941 yield. Even with the increased number of prisoners, the Workhouse should have potatoes to last until new potatoes can be used from next year’s crop.
Tractors and horses are used for farm work. The farm produces all the feed for horses such as corn, hay, oats, and straw. The Workhouse raised and harvested 5,500 bushels of corn. Part of this corn is ground into meal and served to prisoners as mush and corn bread. Pumpkins are grown in cornfields and these supply Thanksgiving pies.
The Workhouse raises all pork served to inmates. Either three or four hogs are butchered each week. The number butchered depends entirely upon requirements, which are governed by prisoner population. Pure lard is rendered after each butchering, amounting from 250 to 300 pounds. This supplies all lard requirements. The farm produces the corn and oats fed to hogs and also the straw used for bedding. One thousand eight hundred fourteen bushels of oats were harvested and the straw amounted to twenty tons.
Nine thousand two hundred bundles of corn fodder were produced. In previous years this was sold. During the war and because of the scarcity of beef the Workhouse will buy and fatten beef with corn, hay, oats, and fodder raised on the farm. The Workhouse has proper facilities for butchering and cooling all meat, which is properly inspected.
Ten acres of wheat have been planted so that the farm will produce wheat for flour. Also sugar cane will be grown in an effort to solve the syrup problem.
Because of the higher prices and the scarcity of certain foods an effort will be made to produce even more food for prisoners. Sweet corn, spinach, pumpkins, squash, other vegetables can be dried and preserved for use during winter months. In dried food products all the food elements are preserved. In canned foods certain food elements are destroyed in the process of canning. [p. 119]