Holler back, Appalachia & The Delta.

hollerLast July I spent five rainy days in Appalachia, in the far west of North Carolina near Boone – and another two days in the Arkansas Delta in the town of Hughes, visiting new projects Heifer International is undertaking here in America. barn

This is pretty country.hydrangea

In the Delta, it’s awesomely fertile country (or at least it was before the advent of agribusiness with its soil-stripping, water-hogging monoculture of corn, cotton, rice and soybeans that requires only one person per 1,000 acres to farm). agribusinessBut this is also hardscrabble America … where poverty prevails, industry has fled, opportunity seems to have vanished, and hope is hard to find.shedIt’s important to see this America.

The only food store in Hughes burnt last year.

The only food store in Hughes burnt down last year.

It matters.Austin

Because 15% — or 46.2 million people– now live in poverty in America; and when I say poor, I mean a family of four earning less than $22,200 a year. And 36% of those poor people are children. The miracle of grapes

But to most of us, they’re invisible.waitressesWhen you’re in a place like Hughes or Ashe, N.C., (or just living with our heads in the sand), it’s easy to feel like there’s nothing that can be done. But Heifer’s crew of Jeffrey, Perry, Edward, Pastor Rob, Bubba, Duncan, Travis and a host of others have a different view.

Edward Rucker, Heifer's charismatic community organizer in Hughes.

Edward Rucker, Heifer’s charismatic community organizer in Hughes.

Biker/gardener Duncan and his wife

Biker/gardener Duncan and his wife tend a huge community garden in North Wilkesboro, NC

Carol Coulter, cheesemaker extraordinaire.

Carol Coulter, Appalachian cheesemaker extraordinaire.

Heifer’s plan is to work within these communities using sustainable agriculture to improve the health, nutrition and income of the people – organizing smallholder farmers (providing land when necessary) to grow fruits, honey, nuts, meats, and vegetables that can be sold in local markets. hopeBasically, it’s about turning these food deserts and manufacturing graveyards into oases of growth. pepperThat endeavor requires education, support, counsel, supply chains, marketing and attitudinal changes – but Heifer and hundreds of activists in the community believe it can be done– and who am I to argue with hope?Angela, Chad and Pastor Rob BrooksAs Perry Jones, Heifer’s USA country director says, “Once an opportunity is given and people have a chance for a dignified, self-reliant life, they lunge into it.” secret

Have hope. Read more from Appalachia & The Delta here:







Categories: Agriculture, Appalachia, Food, Heifer International, Photography, Poverty, Travel, USA | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

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11 thoughts on “Holler back, Appalachia & The Delta.

  1. Glad to see you revisit your thoughts and experiences in Appalachia. It’s easy for much of the world to forget there’s poverty in America, as well. Great images!

    Hugs from Ecuador,

  2. I was born and grew up in NC. I am glad Heifer International is there.

  3. Deb Morrow Palmer

    Beautiful post! I have been enjoying all of them this summer!! The poverty is overwhelming. I hope Heifer can make a difference in the area and may it spread through Appalachia.

    • I hope so, too, Deb. It’s very difficult to look at these communities and try to envision a future when so many jobs and industries have left! Sustainable Farming could be such a boon — but it’s also really hard work, and the dole mentality is engrained in Appalachia as well. It’s gonna take a big shift!

      • Deb Morrow Palmer

        That mentality is what I fear for the poor in the US. I very much want the needy to have support but in ways that encourage a “work” ethic as the end result to improved lives. The self esteem I see in people given a chance at doing something productive is amazing just here on the Eastern Shore! People want to make biased remarks about the Hispanic illegals in our area, but they are here because they are given a chance to work hard and get ahead! I wish our citizens receiving aide wanted to work as hard!! That is my so very conservative side! Ha!! Put me on the topic of Legalizing our illegals, Gay rights, Environment, or better still Education I am liberal!!

  4. Beautiful post. Oftentimes we forget about the poverty here in the US.

  5. Yes, we do forget, TEM …. but it’s really difficult when you confront statistics and have to open your eyes. 50 years after the March on Washington, the statistics on poverty for African American children are still the SAME … 30% … and that’s not exactly a lot of progress. We can and must do better!

  6. Deb Morrow Palmer

    Poverty is a horrible cycle which causes generations of negative mental thinking. Welfare needs re-vamping. Such as showing the parents a monetary account that grows every time their children get a “B” average in school. Make the parents want to help their children do better educationally. Teach your children a different way a be rewarded for that. Unemployment which is very needed needs re-vamping also. When Congress demanded government cutbacks a friend was temporarily laid off from IRS only to make more money from unemployment then his paycheck. Really?? And did Congress the Senate or any other paid government politician have any cut back from their expenses?? I am not Republican or Democrat anymore. They are just another corrupt big business!! Ha!! No more politics. I like to laugh through my day as much as possible!!

    • Super important words of widsom there, Deb! I know that feeling of just completely wanting to fire ALL the Congress and start over!
      So much needs to be revised and rethought!

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