May 252011

By April York

I am a farmer’s daughter.

When I was a little girl, Granny Mac and I would play dress-up, watch soap operas, write spelling sentences, and eat hoecakes while everybody else stripped tobacco, or did the cattle round-up. I read books when I could’ve been learning to rake hay. When I was at the tobacco barn, I did my best to sit in the black swirly chair reading the comics or planning the seating arrangements for Thanksgiving family dinner. Continue reading »

Jan 292010

An unemployed idea: more (labor intensive) farming

By Danny Mayer

Seed catalogs do not just sell seeds. Often, they function as repositories of all things agricultural. Most include some sort of instructions for growing each variety of seed, and nearly all include brief descriptions for each fruit, flower or vegetable that they offer.

As my interests in seeds have drifted toward primarily heirloom varieties of produce, meaning that the seeds were developed through open pollination rather than manipulated for large scale industrial production, the catalogs selling them have gotten even more interesting. In addition to instructions, most sellers of heirloom seeds include at least some stories about the seeds themselves. I enjoy learning about the depression-era history of, say, mortgage lifter tomatoes in general, or of Halladay’s Mortgage Lifter in particular. I feel the stories attached to the seeds—sometimes agriculturally focused, at other times culturally or socially so—better connect me to the long continuum of agricultural acts that comprise the bedrock of our culture. Continue reading »