June 10, 2023

In case you’ve acquired a hankering for one thing bitter, chilly, and crunchy, make your manner right down to Jackson, Mississippi on Saturday, June 10, for the Mississippi Pickle Fest. It is being held on the Mississippi Agriculture and Forestry Museum. Admission is a mere 12 {dollars}, and you’ll feast on all the fermented delights your coronary heart needs. Their pageant web site explains:

The Mississippi Pickle Fest is a refreshing style of all issues fermented. This fun-filled pageant is a day of music, video games, contests, distributors, and a lot extra. We have now partnered with native people and eating places to supply enjoyable pickle-themed meals and drinks. There’s something for everybody at this fun-filled household occasion!

When you’re there, try the remainder of the museum’s 44 reveals, which sprawl throughout a 39-acre web site and embrace an exhibit barn, nature path, youngsters’s barnyard, herb backyard, rose backyard, common retailer, the Nationwide Agricultural Aviation Museum, and the Heritage Middle Gallery, which options an exhibit specializing in “500 years of Mississippi’s agricultural historical past, from the early contributions to agriculture of the Choctaw inhabitants, to show of the century forest conservation, to fashionable catfish farming.” The museum’s huge agriculture backyard is dwelling to the Victory Backyard, which accommodates 17 raised beds with rotating seasonal crops, a blueberry patch, muscadine arbor, potato tuber viewer, and worm dig compost station. The museum hosts college teams and different guests all for studying about soil fertility, conservation tillage, crop rotation, pollination, and historic and fashionable strategies of farming. 

I have never been to the museum, and whereas they point out “slavery” briefly on their web site, I am unsure how totally they cowl how elementary the establishment of slavery and the stolen labor of enslaved folks had been to agriculture in Mississippi. My hunch is that they do about the identical job as most museums, which is to say, not nice. To treatment this failure, some newer museums have come on the scene which might be positively value trying out: The Legacy Museum: From Enslavement to Mass Incarceration, in Montgomery, Alabama; the Worldwide African American Museum in Charleston, South Carolina; and the Whitney Plantation in Wallace, Louisiana.

And for a terrific deep dive into the land theft through deed of title that has occurred in Mississippi (and elsewhere) since Emancipation, try this nice piece in The Atlantic. Here is an excerpt:

This isn’t a narrative about TIAA—at the very least not primarily. The corporate’s newfound dominance within the area is merely the topsoil protecting a historical past of loss and legally sanctioned theft by which TIAA performed no half. However TIAA’s place is instrumental in understanding each how the crimes of Jim Crow have been laundered by time and the way the legacy of ill-gotten positive aspects has turn out to be a structural a part of American life. The land was wrested first from Native People, by power. It was then cleared, watered, and made productive for intensive agriculture by the labor of enslaved Africans, who after Emancipation would come to personal a portion of it. Later, by a wide range of means—generally authorized, typically coercive, in lots of circumstances authorized and coercive, often violent—farmland owned by black folks got here into the palms of white folks. It was aggregated into bigger holdings, then aggregated once more, ultimately attracting the curiosity of Wall Avenue.

House owners of small farms in every single place, black and white alike, have lengthy been buffeted by bigger financial forces. However what occurred to black landowners within the South, and notably within the Delta, is distinct, and was propelled not solely by financial change but additionally by white racism and native white energy. A warfare waged by deed of title has dispossessed 98 p.c of black agricultural landowners in America. They’ve misplaced 12 million acres over the previous century. However even that assertion falsely consigns the losses to long-ago historical past. Actually, the losses principally occurred inside dwelling reminiscence, from the Nineteen Fifties onward. Immediately, aside from a handful of farmers just like the Scotts who’ve been capable of maintain or get again some land, black folks on this best nook of the Deep South personal virtually nothing of the bounty beneath their toes.

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