Image Courtesy of The Great Smoky Mountains National Park Archives
Subsistence farming is the practice of families producing most of the necessities of life from their own land and labor. Until well into the 20th century, most mountain farmers raised animals for food, grew vegetable gardens and orchards, and gathered from surrounding woodlands to provide what they needed for food, shelter and clothing. The chestnut tree played a surprising important part in this economy before its sudden disappearance by 1940. This agricultural system was the foundation for what we remember today as “the traditional way of life in Appalachia.” Industrialization, urbanization, and the loss of farm and forestland ended subsistence farming in the second half of the 20th century. Today only a small fraction of mountain people make a significant part of their livelihood from the land.
Below is the Digital Heritage Moment as broadcast on the radio:
- Apples Apples are a traditional and valuable part of our heritage in North Carolina. The most popular varieties nationwide--Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, and Gala--are grown here. In the […]
- Butter and Egg Money Appalachian farm wives contributed to their family’s income through the butter and egg money they earned by taking their extra eggs and butter to the general store. . .
- Farmers’ Market The recent growth of farmers’ markets across Appalachia is part of the effort of mountain farmers to survive in a national market dominated by large-scale agribusiness. The Department of […]
- Christmas Trees After the Second World War, mountain farmers, looking for crops to revive a declining farm economy, began to market trees from natural stands in nearby towns. Mountain terrain was no […]
- Ghost Towns Towns do not survive forever. Western North Carolina has a number of its own lost towns. They disappeared for a number of reasons.