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The Profit of the EarthThe Global Seeds of American Agriculture$
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Courtney Fullilove

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780226454863

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226455051.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 26 July 2021

Failures of Tea Cultivation in the American South

Failures of Tea Cultivation in the American South

Chapter:
(p.67) 3: Failures of Tea Cultivation in the American South
Source:
The Profit of the Earth
Author(s):

Courtney Fullilove

Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226455051.003.0005

This chapter considers failed public and private efforts to make tea a viable cash crop in the American South, focusing on the efforts of the entrepreneur Junius Smith and the US Patent Office's agricultural department. It argues that the failures of tea cultivation in the American South were many. These included the failure to acquire live seed, to understand environmental conditions of cultivation, and to perfect elaborate techniques of production. But the more significant failure was to envision smallholder production with skilled labor as an alternative to the plantation system, and to link visions for imported seeds to the systems of labor required to cultivate and maintain them. Ultimately the myopic focus of improvers on the acquisition and distribution of seed reflected an unwillingness to connect agricultural science to questions of political economy. Improvers paid little attention to the European colonial origins of the cultivation they pursued, and in doing so allowed its legacies to persist in 20th and 21st century agricultural science.

Keywords:   tea, cotton, Robert Fortune, Junius Smith, plantation, smallholder, cultivation, cash crop, agriculture

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