Seabrook Farms NJ
This page is still under construction - If you have any information, photos, and or links to share, please get in touch with me. Thanks, Susan Ditmire.
Charles F. Seabrook:,
Around 1912, he bought his father's already successful farm. His father Arthur was a very modern and progressive farmer in his own right. At the time Charles bought the farm, he had already been using overhead irrigation and a gasoline powered tractor. He rapidly expanded the business, by building a canning and freezing facility right at the farm, along with new greenhouses and many other improvements.
By 1924, he was broke.
By 1930, the farm was again going strong, due to their pioneering methods of quick freezing vegetables. CF Seabrook was a great believer in atomization, but he could not eliminate the intensive need for farm workers and extra hands needed during harvesting. The very success of the farm and frozen vegetable business was dependent on having a good, but inexpensive labor force.
Life at Seabrook Farm was not all blissful, I found this reference to strikes in 1934.
...Two bitterly fought strikes in 1934 for higher wages and union recognition carried the industrial parallel even further. The first strike brought a wage increase, but the second resulted in withdrawal of union recognition, although wages were not altered. from the WPA NJ Guide - see below.
SEABROOK FARMS, 17 m., is the largest single farm in the State, covering 9 square miles of fine soil on both sides of the highway. The annual crops of peas, beans, asparagus, and other vegetables are produced by modern industrial techniques applied to farming.
Seabrook Farms includes over 6,000 cultivated acres, 30 miles of improved roads, railroad facilities for the simultaneous loading of 30 cars, and a packing plant. Water for overhead irrigation of 250 acres is electrically pumped from three artificial lakes, making it possible to plant peas in rows only 7 inches apart.
The farm hands as well as the girls in the packing plant (more than 2,000 are employed during the busy season) punch a time clock; every item of cost and revenue is recorded and analyzed under the most up-to-date bookkeeping system; and an efficiency engineer is constantly at work on methods to improve production and reduce costs.
In April, 1934, Seabrook employees formed an independent union, which succeeded in having the 12 1/2- or 15-cent hourly wages doubled. Later that summer the workers, led by Donald Henderson, a Columbia University instructor, again went on strike. The strikers lost their union recognition although wages were not reduced. The corporation has since abandoned its policy of employing migratory workers, who were housed in small frame shanties. Local residents are now preferred.
Diesel-engined caterpillar tractors plow, disc, and pulverize the rich soil. Instead of being picked by hand, the peas, one of the most important crops, are harvested, vines and all, with mowing machines. The vines are hauled by truck to large viners that separate and shell the peas. Afterward the vines are returned to the field as fertilizer.
The pea harvesting is completed before July 1, and the fields are promptly replanted with bush lima beans. The same culture and harvesting methods are followed.
In the packing plant the peas are graded by sizes with the aid of rotary sieves; then they are washed, steamed to a semi cooked stage, packed in cardboard containers, and frozen solidly by refrigerating apparatus that maintains temperatures well below zero. A fleet of specially built trucks. also with refrigeration at the zero mark, carries the peas to market. Ninety per cent of the peas, lima beans, asparagus, and spinach grown at Seabrook Farms is frozen. The company also buys from neighboring farmers over a large area.
Orchards and farm crops are sprayed and dusted against insects and other pests. Airplanes flying near the ground scatter insecticides. The "dawn patrol" of six planes attracts many summer visitors.
An imposing feature of Seabrook Farms is the great array of green- houses, each 300 by 60 feet. The soil is plowed by two-horse teams driven through the greenhouses. In the winter, roses, flowering bulbs, and radishes are grown. Tomato and pepper plants are started in the greenhouses and are later transplanted to open ground. Cucumber, squash, and lettuce are also grown under glass
Specialization in farming has reached a remarkable peak on Seabrook Farms, Incorporated, just north of Bridgeton. Here, on 5,000 acres owned or leased by the corporation, industrial technique and efficiency engineering have been applied to agriculture. Lands once worked by small farmers living in perennial semi-starvation have been absorbed by the company and converted into profitable acreage. The similarity to industrial method extends into the financial set-up, for here is a farm with a holding company, and a subsidiary company to handle canning and packing operations.
To illustrate the intense agricultural specialization: Peas are planted in patches covering as many as 200 acres, with rows so close together that the usual method of cultivation 'is impossible. Aphis and other pests are controlled by dust sprayed from the farm's two airplanes; and, instead of being picked by hand, the vines are harvested whole by reapers and the peas separated by specially built viners.
The farm has its own reservoirs, railroad sidings, and concrete highways, plus a trucking fleet with special refrigerating apparatus for hauling frozen foods to market. Farm hands as well as factory girls punch time clocks, and company police patrol the land. Two bitterly fought strikes in 1934 for higher wages and union recognition carried the industrial parallel even further. The first strike brought a wage increase, but the second resulted in withdrawal of union recognition, although wages were not altered.
Nurseries represent an even more intense type of specialization. Trees and shrubs, vegetable and flower seeds are raised
The above text was exerted from:
NEW JERSEY, A Guide To Its Present And Past
Compiled and Written by the Federal Writers' Project of the Works Progress Administration for the State of New Jersey
American Guide Series Originally published in 1939
An offer for resettlement:
"Gentlemen, what have you to lose? You are not making any progress by remaining in camp--I say come out and see it for yourself. We'll pay your transportation . . . "
These were the challenging words of the employment manager from Seabrook Farms in New Jersey spoken at the Jerome Relocation Center in Arkansas in mid-April, 1944. He was the personal representative of the late Charles F. Seabrook, founder of the world's largest frozen foods industry
by the National Park Service
A terrific online book account
|Indefinite Leave Passes for those that would swear to the
...One of the largest single sponsors, Seabrook Farms, was also one of the largest producers of frozen vegetables in the country. The company, experiencing a labor shortage due to the war, had a history of hiring minorities and setting them up in ethnically segregated villages. About 2,500 evacuees went to Seabrook Farms' New Jersey plant. They worked 12-hour days, at 35 cents to 50 cents an hour, with 1 day off every 2 weeks. They lived in concrete block buildings, not much better than the relocation center barracks, and had to provide for their own food and cooking (Seabrook 1995).
John Fuyuume at his desk at Seabrook Farms.
(site temporarily missing)
Distrusted, dispossessed, displaced and dismissed
By Daniel Shearer
Princeton Packet Staff Writer
Friday, Jan. 7, 2000
Send comments to
Photos of Japanese Resettlement in South Jersey (Seabrook)
More Photos and vignettes:
Paul Suyeda,... Prior to evacuation he had his own farm at Visalia, Calif.
Satsuki Yasumoto,... Prior to evacuation he was a farm worker at Watsonville, California
Ellen Noguchi: Japanese American Helped Internment Refugees Adjust to Wrenching Changes
A Granddaughter's thoughts:
|One persons reaction to growing up Japanese in Seabrook of the 1950's:|
More on the Japanese experience at Seabrook Farm:
an exhibition in the Museum of the Balch Institute for Ethnic Studies --note:
The Balch Institute for Ethnic Studies
for more information:
NJ Digital History Collection:
Seabrook Farm returns as
for more information:
By the Seabrook
Educational and Cultural Center.
Follow the link to get information about the video and to get to the home pages of Japanese American National Museum
IMMIGRATION STUDIES / HISTORY
GROWING A GLOBAL VILLAGE
Making History in Rural America
Charles H. Harrison