By Drew A. Swanson
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 zone and illustrates how rules approximately race and panorama administration grew to become entangled below slavery and in a while. difficult long-held perceptions, this cutting edge examine examines not just the cloth relationships that hooked up crop, land, and folks but additionally the reasons that inspired tobacco farming within the region.
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Additional info for A Golden Weed: Tobacco and Environment in the Piedmont South
Occaneechi and Saura peoples had long lived in the Southside, but beginning in the early 1700s, 2 4 on t he b ack of t o b acco these groups moved their villages farther from encroaching EuroAmerican settlements, leaving the Southside as a sort of buﬀer zone between the English on Virginia’s coastal plain and the Appalachian Mountains and central Carolina Piedmont. 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.
These soils leave much to be desired from an agricultural perspective. Ultisols tend to be low in nutrients and minerals essential to most plant growth, including nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, and calcium, and they are consistently acidic, posing barriers for species reliant on neutral or basic environments (such as many nitrogen-ﬁ xing legumes that are important components of convertible husbandry). These nutrient-poor, acidic conditions were the result of a number of factors: ultisols are quite old and weathered, even from a geological perspective; the Piedmont experiences consistent heat, humidity, and heavy rainfall, which leach nutrients and minerals from upper soil horizons at a rapid rate; and the region missed out on a potential source of soil enrichment in the form of the most recent glaciation, which made it no farther south than Pennsylvania.
The Piedmont province of Virginia and North Carolina is located between the ﬂat Tidewater to the east and the Blue Ridge Mountains to the west. Caswell, Halifax, and Pittsylvania lie along the Piedmont’s western edge, a landscape of rolling hills, deep creek and river on t he b ack of t o b acco 21 courses, and the occasional low mountain. Although the region receives moderate precipitation—between forty and ﬁfty inches per year—it is a particularly well-drained landscape thanks to its numerous streams and rivers.
A Golden Weed: Tobacco and Environment in the Piedmont South by Drew A. Swanson