Tomato growing and canning was an important part of Ozarks life for sixty years. For a few months every year, from before the start of the twentieth century until shortly after the end of World War II, tens of thousands of Ozarkers picked or processed a significant portion of the United States canned tomato pack. During most of these years, they processed millions of cases of canned tomatoes either on the farm or in small, family-owned and operated canneries. The social and economic environment of the area largely determined the rise and decline of canning in the Ozarks and the organization of the industry. It expanded rapidly, not because of any natural advantage in soil or climate, but rather because it fit well with the needs of small, and often poor, farmers raising a variety of crops. It peaked during the 1920s and 1930s and faded a generation later. Canning largely disappeared when changes to local life and work patterns, most notably the decline of small-scale mixed farming, altered the Ozarks in ways that made the area incompatible with small-scale canning.

The text of this article is only available as a PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.