Ellen G. White: The Australian Years: 1891-1900 (vol. 4)


Counsel and Help from an Experienced Orchardist

In search for information and guidance in putting in the orchards on her little farm and on the college estate, they were directed to a Mr. Mosely, a successful fruit grower. In a letter written Sunday, August 4, Ellen White told of how he was “coming in one week to see all the trees set properly and staked properly” and observed, “I shall have most careful work done.”—Ibid. Feverishly they pushed the work of clearing the land for the orchard and garden—three acres (Letter 126, 1895). Ellen White picks up the story on Tuesday and writes of what was ahead: 4BIO 222.4

Brother Lawrence's hands are helping to clear the land, and good work is being done. The trees are ordered of Mosely, and he will be here on Sunday and he wants every student to be on hand to see how he does the setting of the trees, and help him, and he says he will give talks to the students in the evening upon the subject of fruit raising and vegetable raising, if they wish him to.... 4BIO 222.5

I shall have the privilege of experimenting in reference to Mr. Mosely, who promises to look after the trees. I think he will have a determination to do his best for me.... We will do our best, and if we make some mistakes we will know better next time. The men work for me with decided interest.—Letter 149, 1895. 4BIO 222.6

On several occasions Mr. Mosely came over to plant trees and give instruction on orchard planting and care. The virgin land was well prepared. It took six span of bullocks pulling an immense plow to break up the unworked soil. As she watched, Ellen White marveled, and wrote that the bullocks were “under discipline, and will move at a word and a crack of a whip, which makes a sharp report, but does not touch them” (Letter 42, 1895). At an early point in the tree planting, she had some input, about which she reminisced a little more than a decade later: 4BIO 223.1

While we were in Australia, we adopted the ... plan ...of digging deep trenches and filling them in with dressing that would create good soil. This we did in the cultivation of tomatoes, oranges, lemons, peaches, and grapes. 4BIO 223.2

The man of whom we purchased our peach trees told me that he would be pleased to have me observe the way they were planted. I then asked him to let me show him how it had been represented in the night season that they should be planted. 4BIO 223.3

I ordered my hired man to dig a deep cavity in the ground, then put in rich dirt, then stones, then rich dirt. After this he put in layers of earth and dressing until the hole was filled....He [the nurseryman] said to me, “You need no lesson from me to teach you how to plant the trees.”—Letter 350, 1907. 4BIO 223.4

On through August the tree planting went. The men working on Ellen White's “farm” vied with the men at the school to see who could get the trees in first. The men at the school won out by one day, but it was not Ellen White's fault that her work lagged. At school they had been working for weeks clearing the land and getting ready. At her place, it had to be done in days. The school planted twelve acres of trees; Ellen White planted two (Letter 42, 1895). On August 19 she reported to Edson: 4BIO 223.5

Mr. Smith [not an Adventist], who has recently moved to Cooranbong, is interested in the truth. He was on the ground receiving all the instruction possible from the lessons given by Mr. Mosely, the fruit grower. The keeper of the police station was on the ground, and both these lookers-on begged for Brother Rousseau to sell them a few trees—on Sunday, mind you—which he did. We are seeking to be friendly with all.—Letter 126, 1895. 4BIO 223.6

Thus from the very start, Ellen White was able to accomplish one of her objectives: to teach the people in the community what could be done by employing intelligent agricultural procedures. This was not just her own determined, ambitious plan. “The light given me from the Lord,” she told Edson, “is that whatever land we occupy is to have the very best kind of care and to serve as an object lesson to the colonials of what the land will do if properly worked.”—Ibid. And she wrote a few days later to Dr. J. H. Kellogg: 4BIO 224.1

The cultivation of our land requires the exercise of all the brainpower and tact we possess. The lands around us testify to the indolence of men. We hope to arouse to action the dormant senses. We hope to see intelligent farmers, who will be rewarded for their earnest labor. The hand and head must cooperate, bringing new and sensible plans into operation in the cultivation of the soil.—Letter 47a, 1895. 4BIO 224.2

In another communication she wrote: 4BIO 224.3

We shall experiment on this land, and if we make a success, others will follow our example.... When right methods of cultivation are adopted, there will be far less poverty than now exists. We intend to give the people practical lessons upon the improvement of the land, and thus induce them to cultivate their land, now lying idle. If we accomplish this, we shall have done good missionary work.—Letter 42, 1895.

She was on the lookout for the best of seeds, most of which had to come from Sydney, but choice tomato seed she secured from one of her neighbors. She recognized that they would at times err, working as they were in unfamiliar territory: 4BIO 224.4

Mistakes will often be made, but every error lies close beside truth. Wisdom will be learned by failures, and the energy that will make a beginning gives hope of success in the end. Hesitation will keep things back, precipitancy will alike retard, but all will serve as lessons if the human agents will have it so.—Letter 47a, 1895. 4BIO 224.5

Rather jubilantly she could write to Dr. Kellogg in late August of the influence of her work at Cooranbong, and of the appraisal of one expert on the quality of the land, a point her ears were attuned to: 4BIO 225.1

I came to this place, and began work on my place so earnestly that it inspired all with fresh zeal, and they have been working with a will, rejoicing that they have the privilege. We have provoked one another to zeal and good works. 4BIO 225.2

The school workers were afraid I would plant the first trees, and now both they and I have the satisfaction of having the first genuine orchards in this vicinity. Some of our trees will yield fruit next year, and the peaches will bear quite a crop in two years. Mr. Mosely, from whom we bought our trees, lives about twenty miles from here. He has an extensive and beautiful orchard. He says that we have splendid fruitland. 4BIO 225.3

Well, the school has made an excellent beginning. The students are learning how to plant trees, strawberries, et cetera.—Letter 47, 1895. 4BIO 225.4