I grew up in the foothills of the Blue Ridge, in a community that believed in hard work and family, as well as a close tie to the land. We grew our own vegetables and raised animals, and we helped our neighbors whenever they needed it.
When we planted our gardens in spring, we always planted more than we needed, and so did our friends and neighbors. When harvest time arrived, we shared with people in the community. I remember my dad delivering corn, tomatoes, green beans and squash to a few of the older members of our community, or families in need.
We all did our share of the work, from plowing and planting, to weeding, fertilizing and harvesting. The agricultural practices in our community were never for profit, it was always about sustenance for our families and friends.
I remember going after school to help get up hay, or put up fences, or do simple repairs on neighbors homes. In summer, I would help other people do their work in their gardens, or take care of their animals.
We would break beans, shuck corn and shell peas together. On summer evenings, the ladies would get together and can fruit and vegetables, put up corn for freezing, and make specialty items like pickles, chow-chow and preserves. That was always an important time in the life of our rural community. The food produced within our community supplied church dinners, family get- togethers and were donated to those in need in our area.
Farming was a way of life then, almost every family around us had at least a small patch of ground they tilled, or raised a few pigs or a cow or two. Many of us raised chickens for eggs and meat. Everyone around here was involved in agriculture in some way.
But times change, and now fewer and fewer families rely on growing their own food, and neighbors barely know each other's names anymore. What was once rural is now become suburban. New homes are built, and businesses spring up, replacing fields that once grew acre upon acre of corn and tomatoes. The convenience of driving just up the road to the chain grocery store, or just eating out instead of going through the “trouble” of preparing a home cooked meal, has made subsistence farming a thing of the past around here. Only a few people in our community grow vegetables and raise animals now.
Even though many of the older folks with so much knowledge of working the land have passed on, and we don't farm like we once did, we still have strong ties to the land. There is a greater appreciation of our natural resources than there was in the past. This is still a great place to raise a family, and it is still a place where neighbors come together when a need arises.