Abandoned silo, Frisco Texas.
Keeping Our Farm Heritage
Growing up on a suburban street in Paris, Texas, my family never maintained a
vegetable garden. I had no idea that canning was something a person could do by
herself. I barely learned how to sew, knit, and crochet. I still do not know how to
make lace, or a flaky pie crust, for that matter.

I've also figured out that I'm not the only one who isn't skilled in the domestic arts. In
fact, most people of my generation do not know what it takes to be self sufficient and
self reliable. Because we grew up with the convenience of TV dinners, pre-made
clothes, and available fruits and vegetables all year round, we have no connection to
the land and subsequently, to our heritage.

Historians concerned with post-modern America (ca. 1945-on) have theorized that
the disconnect younger generations feel towards the land is due to the hardships
their parents endured in the
Great Depression. As the land failed millions of people -
and was sold practically beneath their feet to big farming corporations - former
farmers began to distrust the agricultural system in general. Making a living off of a
few  acres proved impossible in the modern world, and family farms became a distant
memory.

The heritage of Texas and Oklahoma, however, is the land. With our wide open
spaces, nutrient rich prairies, and acres of grazing land, our history is intimately
connected to the way of life of farmers. The Caddo farmed communal land; the white
and Latino settlers broke the sod for commercial crops; and black freedmen found
both bondage and freedom in turning the soil.

So how can we reconnect with our farming heritage? One way is to buy produce at
the various roadside stands manned by local farmers. We can also try our hands at
maintaining small vegetable gardens of our own. We can write down family recipes,
keep heirloom blankets and quilts, and teach children how to hoe a garden, make
jelly, and sew a doll.

History comes alive when you actively participate in your culture. By keeping a
connection to the land, we can continue to leave a legacy that is much more real than
any farm implement display in a museum.  
Kentucky Town, Grayson County, Texas.
Questions or comments? E-mail me:
robin@redriverhistorian.com