Today we planted extra corn at our community plot, land belonging to an active member of the community that isn’t able to garden by himself, but who wants to contribute his resources to the project. It wasn’t long before he was telling us stories from his childhood when he had to help out on the land of his grandfather, a sharecropper. He remembered how glad he was when the summer ended, and he could finally go back to school!
In 2007 Step by Step helped publish Patchwork Dreams—Stories, Songs and History from Big Ugly Creek and Harts Creek, West Virginia. Multiple references in the transcribed oral histories help illuminate the Grow Appalachia “context” in our own community for us.
“They farmed [the whole side of a hill]. And they had to because, well, all the food was grown.” –Loretta Ferrell Bell
‘Why, everybody had chickens and cows, and a rooster’d stand on the fencepost and crow and the cows would moo, and everybody had a horse or a mule.” –Betty Paris
“We were poor but I didn’t realize it. We always had food. We had to work hard, we raised everything we could in the garden and the field and we’d take what they called a turn of corn to a mill and have it ground. We had our own milk, butter and our own pork, and a few times we had to butcher a beef, and had our own chickens and eggs so I can’t remember of a time that we didn’t have some kind of meat.” –Mima Kirk
The previous two posts both made references to the importance of Appalachian agricultural heritage and this is a helpful reminder to us here in Big Ugly to highlight and build on this common thread in each of our Grow Appalachia families.