By Drew A. Swanson

Drew A. Swanson has written an “environmental” heritage a few crop of significant ancient and monetary value: American tobacco.  a well-liked agricultural product for far of the South, the tobacco plant could eventually degrade the land that nurtured it, yet because the writer provocatively argues, the alternative of crop before everything made excellent 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 area and illustrates how rules approximately race and panorama administration grew to become entangled less than slavery and later on. hard long-held perceptions, this leading edge examine examines not just the fabric relationships that attached crop, land, and folks but additionally the excuses that inspired tobacco farming within the region.

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Extra info for A Golden Weed: Tobacco and Environment in the Piedmont South

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28 Everywhere he traveled, Byrd saw remnants of Indian fields and villages. 30 Byrd was likewise impressed by the large expanses of old fields near the confluence of the Dan and the Staunton in eastern Halifax County. During the seventeenth century the Occaneechi had inhabited a series of islands where the two rivers met, and Byrd believed these old farms some of the best land in the Piedmont. 31 Despite Byrd’s glowing descriptions of Southside land, the region’s defining agricultural characteristic was that it was not exceptionally fertile.

Byrd led a survey into the Piedmont interior in 1728, and he journeyed west again in 1732 and 1733 to assess the region’s prospects for settlement and real estate speculation. The first expedition set out to firm up the boundary between Virginia and North Carolina; the latter colony claimed the mouth of the Nottoway River as the line, while the Old Dominion, unsurprisingly, declared the border to be fifteen miles farther south. Survey work in the spring of 1728 hacked a path through the pocosins and black water swamps of the Tidewater.

67 Although tobacco culture manuals tried to provide advice on how to determine the perfect moment for harvest, they generally seemed to agree that only experience allowed farmers to accurately gauge when they should harvest their crop. 69 During harvest workers cut each stalk off near the ground with a long tobacco knife and then generally split the stalk for half its length to facilitate curing. Growers cured cut tobacco one of several ways. 70 In both sun-curing and fi re- curing, workers affi xed the split tobacco stalks to wooden sticks that hung in the outdoor racks or on tiers built in the log barns.

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