Agricultural and environmental historians of the US South have in the last three decades focused on planters’ engagement with scientific pursuits as a means toward financial and environmental improvement. But in focusing on these failed attempts of conservation husbandry, the discipline has paid little heed to southern antebellum agricultural efforts beyond the commodity crops of rice and cotton. Following in the stead of the New Agricultural History’s awareness of environmental processes in shaping life and labor, “Sowing Diversity” identifies the root of truck farming in the American South through exploring the connection between antebellum agronomic organizations and changing visions of agronomic advancement, technologies of information, and economic relationships over the course of the nineteenth century. Focusing on agronomic experimentation in the urban sphere, specifically the lasting impact of Charleston’s rich antebellum horticultural community, this article exposes the deep roots of southern agronomic efforts beyond rice and cotton, bringing to light southern planters’ keen interest for agricultural advancement beyond the scope of financial profit.

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