By Drew A. Swanson

ISBN-10: 0300191162

ISBN-13: 9780300191165

Drew A. Swanson has written an “environmental” heritage a couple of crop of serious old and fiscal importance: American tobacco.  a well-liked agricultural product for a lot of the South, the tobacco plant might finally degrade the land that nurtured it, yet because the writer provocatively argues, the alternative of crop first and foremost made ideal agrarian in addition to monetary experience for southern planters.
Swanson, who brings to his narrative the adventure of getting grown up on a operating Virginia tobacco farm, explores how one try at agricultural permanence went heavily awry. He weaves jointly social, agricultural, and cultural background of the Piedmont quarter and illustrates how principles approximately race and panorama administration turned entangled below slavery and later on. demanding long-held perceptions, this cutting edge examine examines not just the cloth relationships that attached crop, land, and folks but additionally the reasons that inspired tobacco farming within the region.

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Additional resources for A Golden Weed: Tobacco and Environment in the Piedmont South

Sample text

After farmers prepared their tobacco land, they waited for a good rain (or a “season”) to transplant seedlings. A soaking rain loosened the soil and made planting easier, and it provided the moisture necessary for sustaining a young seedling through the shock of transplanting. Following the wet spell, all hands on the farm would draw plants from the beds and carefully move them to the fields in baskets or barrels. At the field they placed one seedling to each hill, using a short wooden peg to make a hole for the plant.

Wealthy planters existed throughout the three counties, but that wealth was based on varied economic activities, ownership of the richest bottomlands in the region, and the intermarriage of wealthy families. 3 2 on t he b ack of t o b acco Bruce, Hairston, and their fellow large planters were exceptional in terms of numbers, but their influence was far-reaching. They dominated the tiny manufacturing economy of the Southside, and they had control of some of the most fertile stretches of land in the three counties.

Making “good” or “bad” tobacco served as an indicator of a person’s moral fiber. The lives of farmers in general revolve around seasonal tasks, and tobacco in par ticular developed its seasonal rhythms, complete with a unique language. The “season” came when spring rains thoroughly wet the earth, leading in t r o d u c t i o n 15 to the time of “setting out,” or transplanting. Knocking low-quality leaves off the bottom of plants became “priming,” and the harvest was “pulling” or “saving” time, followed by “housing” leaf in the barns.

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A Golden Weed: Tobacco and Environment in the Piedmont South by Drew A. Swanson

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