Farmer Jones and the Year 2000 (1956)
The Independent Press-Telegram magazine, Southland (Long Beach, CA) dedicated their entire November 4, 1956 issue to "You and the Year 2000." The section about farming appears below.
The most odd scenario depicted is one in which an H-bomb actually makes crops grow better. The entire article by George Serviss, entitled "Anyone for a Garchidrose?" appears below.
Farmer Jones stepped to a small black instrument panel at the rear of the air-conditioned plastic "bubble" in which we sat, my wife seated beside me - I had brought her along to write the woman's angle of this interview with a Year 2000 farm family for "Atomic Life." We had just come up a ray-powered elevator from the family's spacious bomb-and-fungus-proofed, solar-conditioned subsurface quarters. We were surveying his fields.
Farmer Jones pressed a button marked "Activator." There was a slight hum and a cylinder rose in the field a few feet beyond the clear plastic wall. A door opened in the cylinder and a robot, closely resembling a 1956 man, stepped jerkily out into the field.
"I must apologize for my hired hand," Farmer Jones said lightly, "Since full parity prices have been removed from our crops, I haven't been able to afford a newer model. But, he has served me well. A couple of new tubes and a paint job will tide him over for another year or two."
Farmer Jones was now operating a small lever that projected from a squarish box that stood up from the floor. The lever seemed to swing around a 360-degree circle and, as I watched, I could see that this was the control for the robot. I turned back to the field to watch development. I'd already asked about the quality of his crops.
The robot moved swiftly now, under Farmer Jones' guidance. "Carrot, perhaps?" queried Farmer Jones. "Or a turnip; perhaps a tomato?" he asked, turning the robot this way and that in the rows that could be seen beyond the plastic. There was very little foliage to mark the rows, produce being grown these days for the edible roots and fruits with a minimum of green waste. Chlorophyll derivative sprays replaced greenery, as I had already observed in my extensive farm and garden writings.
Perhaps we should have a leaf or two of spinach, too," Farmer Jones commented, steering the robot on another course to a green section of the field into which the machine almost totally disappeared, so tall was the vegetation.
"I'll bring the man in now," Farmer Jones said, and guided the robot to a belt conveyor box which projected beyond the bubble. "Haven't been out in the fields since we were H-bombed in the last war," he said. He laughed ruefully, "Don't think it would be healthy," he said, "still 'hot'; but you'd be surprised what that bombing did for the soil. Things grow like crazy; and the robot doesn't mind a bit sowing the seeds and keeping the place up."
The impromptu harvest came tumbling into the bubble - through a radiation trap. Farmer Jones explained. "They're safe to handle now," he said, and pressed a "Deactivator" button that left the robot hired-hand standing at attention. The humming stopped.
The vegetable were all that Farmer Jones had previously boasted that they would be. Carrots three feet long. I took a sample nibble of one; cleaned and completely sanitized by passing through the radiation trap. It was delicious. So was the turnip, four feet in diameter and as tender as butter. I carved a chunk with my electronic pocket incisor and passed it to my wife who has always had a penchant for raw vegetables. She exclaimed with delight at its flavor.
The giant tomato, fully as large as a regulation basketball, gushed red juice of tantalizing aroma when I pricked the skin with my incisor.
The spinach leaves were far larger than palm fronds, but I have persisted in a childhood aversion for this delicacy. I merely examined the leaves for texture.
"No sand," commented Farmer Jones," and the flavor is very similar to lemon squash. All the old-time vitamins, though."
We chatted on crop prospects and the market outlook while Farmer Jones sent his man after a handful of cherries, which were chilled by dry ice in the hands of the robot before they reached us. One apiece was more than enough Farmer Jones asked:
"Would your wife like to have a nice, fresh corsage? I've something new I've just perfected."
He dispatched the robot on another guided errand. The corsage that was deposited on the conveyor belt was, indeed, "something new."
"I call it 'garchidrose'," Farmer Jones said. "I've combined gardenia, orchid and rose in one, together with fern, to grow a complete, multiple-flower corsage on one plant. It does need a bit of ribbon," he apologized, "but I haven't found the way to grow the ribbon yet!" My wife was delighted.
We turned to leave.
"By the way," I said. "These vegetables of yours; they must be very high in vitamin content."
"They are, they are," he said. "Extremely so."
"They you must be a very healthy man," I said.
"Me? Oh no; I never eat them. No roughage for me. I have ulcers. I'm strictly a cottage cheese and pill man, myself."