Abstract

In the early nineteenth century, agricultural reformers in the United States called for the establishment of pattern farms, institutions that would conduct experiments in husbandry and model proper agricultural practices for farmers. This essay analyzes the drive to found pattern farms as an attempt to shift authority in agricultural science from a scattered network of farmers and agricultural journals to a central institution that would provide definitive judgments about proper practices. By advocating for pattern farms, agricultural reformers attempted to answer critiques from ordinary farmers who accused them of having little experience in working the land for a living. Reformers also envisioned that agricultural schools attached to pattern farms could instruct farmers in scientific agriculture, thus transforming them from ignorant commoners to enlightened gentlemen.

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