Sunday, May 20, 2012

Depression-Era "Live at Home" Program: A Revival?

During the Great Depression in North Carolina, Governor O. Max Gardner established the "Live at Home" program, a state-sponsored initiative to encourage rural struggling farm families to produce what they would need for sustenance at home, or, as we know it today, to homestead!

Governor O. Max Gardner,  Image Source

The trying economic times during the early 1930s meant that cash crops like cotton and tobacco were no longer bringing the sums farmers once knew. The "Live at Home" program encouraged and helped to train families to devote more land to growing foodstuffs that would be needed for survival rather than using that land for cash crops. That way, families could spend less on food and essentials produced at home that they were formerly buying at the general store or local market. With fewer cash crops being sold, this would help prices to rise.

Governor Gardner partnered with the College of Agriculture from what is today North Carolina State University, the Department of Agriculture and the Extension Service to assist him in his efforts to grow and consume locally-grown food, train families in the arts of raising livestock, canning and preserving, and cultivating successful vegetable gardens. Home demonstration agents and 4-H clubs helped spread the campaign and educated local communities. The program proved to be very popular, so much so that local and county groups began hosting their own Live-At-Home training events and homegrown feasts.

Governor Gardner especially promoted the Live-At-Home program in public schools, implementing curriculum that taught children basic homesteading, gardening, and animal husbandry skills. Don't you think this is a GREAT idea for today's youth as well?



In this time of economic recession and financial hardship for many, perhaps we need a revival of the "Live at Home" program. Tutorials, educational resources, classes, training--all of these things could help families get started with homesteading to ease their pocketbook and make their home a healthier place.

What do you think? Is a revival of the "Live-At-Home" program needed? Would it make any difference?




(For more information on the Live-At-Home program, please visit http://ncpedia.org/live-at-home for a wonderful article written by my former fellow co-worker and Associate Curator at the NC Museum of History, Diana Bell-Kite.)



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13 comments:

  1. Clearly we could learn a thing or two from Mr. Gardner. I really hope more people read this and understand it's relevance, especially in this day and age! It's time we start getting back to that way of thinking.

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    1. Absolutely! I wish the schools would place more of an emphasis on homesteading, livestock and gardening skills like they did back then. I think it could be so worthwhile.

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  2. I think it's a wonderful idea! I work with children and we're creating our own year round veggie garden (I also have visions of chickens and bees, but we'll see how far that goes with my new boss and the historical committee when and if we ever get that far). Our children are hungry for knowledge and LOVE growing their own food :-) They'll eat anything they've worked to grow, which is amazing and a gift in itself!

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    1. That is awesome! I'm so glad to hear the kids enjoy learning how to garden. I hope you can get everyone on board for chickens and bees too!

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  3. I love the idea. It's sorely needed now. But I can't see it happening in the schools or being promoted by elected officials. Think about it - if we all grow our own produce and raise our own livestock and all that, then we wouldn't be going to the Big Box Corproations for our needs. The corproate CEO's would see profits fall. And, let's face it, they own government.

    No, if these programs are to succeed (and I believe they are needed!) we will have to start quiet revolutions in our own communties and make this a grassroots effort.

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    1. Very true. Sad, but true. We will have to make it a grassroots effort for sure which I hope is starting to happen!

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  4. Our homeschool already has Live-at-Home lessons on our little homestead. I praise GOD for being able to teach my kids REAL life skills in such uncertain times.

    Thanks for the article!

    Amanda
    Matthew 6:33

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    1. Good for you! It's great your kids are learning those skills.

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  5. It's amazing what (younger) people don't know about gardening or raising anything for that matter! I actually rubbed off on my neighbors and they planted a vegetable garden this year as they were jealous of mine last year!

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  6. I think this is desperately needed. My kids attend public school and it is astounding how many kids in their classes don't even know what real food looks like. I have turned my entire back yard into food production (well, except the parts that are too much shade to grow very much) and every child that comes over always samples and tastes what is ready. They all love it...some have even taken plants home to grow. I am hoping to start my own revolution by getting the kids interested and taking it home to their parents.

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  7. Well it sure looks like you are carrying forth the "Live at Home" message everyday. I love your blog btw--glad you enjoyed the article :)
    -Diana

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