Folklore is necessary to tell the story of who came before us and how they lived. Here is what we know about the area where we now grow food for customers, based on what we have learned from neighbors and local historians after living here for a decade now, and we are still learning.
Our farm is located on the same foot path leading up into the Blue Ridge Mountains that was once neutral hunting grounds for both the Cherokee to the north and west and Catawba to the south and east, being near the Continental Divide, where the water runs to the Atlantic Ocean on one side and the Gulf of Mexico on the other. The land belonged to everyone, as it was understood that the water, the forest, and the wildlife were integral to everyone’s survival. The Cherokee were forcibly removed through a series of legal maneuvers, most notably the Trail of Tears which established a reservation hundreds of miles from here. The people who resisted now make up the Eastern Band in the Qualla Boundary and the Catawba now have a small area of tribal sovereignty south of Charlotte.
This road is also the route that white settlers in our county took along with the black people who they enslaved, in a time when enslaved people were more valuable than land. During the civil war, there were more black people enslaved than there were confederate soldiers in our county. Descendants built communities in Clear Creek, Edneyville, and in the hills just south of of the Continental Divide.
In the mid-20th Century, farmers in our county began putting in apple orchards, and later came the tomato industry. These farms relied on immigrant labor, people who were not paid fairly and lacked adequate housing, transportation and medical care. While many families stayed and are still here several generations later, thousands of migrant farm worker families come each year to pick apples and tomatoes to support this industry, and the larger field where we now farm was formerly 35 acres of tomatoes.
The part of our farm that has our home and a small market garden belonged to one family that we know of before us. The matriarch of the family was known to many in the area because she raised four kids in a one hundred-year-old log cabin, attended Ebenezer Baptist Church down the road, and had a small farm stand at one point. This was how many families in our area lived, proud but considered poor to an outsider’s eye. In the 50’s the land around us started to get divided into smaller and smaller lots, as the city of Hendersonville has grown to accommodate new residents in place of farm land.
We are proud to call this our home and aware of the history that has led to ongoing inequality impacting black, latino, and poor white families in our mountain town. We are excited to be part of a community of farmers, but recognize we are not trying to reproduce the social relationships that made some families wealthy while keeping others poor. We want to tell the truth about this history and honor the survival of the people who came before us. We live in a wealthy country and quality of life is high in the mountains, people are proud and our lives may be rich, but you don’t have to look hard to see injustice, and this is something that guides our business decisions.