The Great Meadow - Donahue, Brian - Yale University Press
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- Yale Agrarian Studies Series
The Great Meadow
Farmers and the Land in Colonial Concord
Selected by Choice Magazine as an Outstanding Academic Title for 2005
Winner of the 2005 New England Historical Association book award.
Winner of the 2004 George Perkins Marsh Prize sponsored by the American Society for Environmental History
Winner of the 2005 Theodore Saloutos Book Award sponsored by the Agricultural History Society
Winner of the New England Historical Association's best 2004 book (in any field) by a New England scholar
The farmers of colonial New England have been widely accused of farming extensively, neglecting manure, wearing out their land, and moving on. But did they? And if so, when and why? Brian Donahue offers an innovative, accessible, and authoritative history of the early farming practices of Concord, Massachusetts, and challenges the long-standing notion that colonial husbandry degraded the land. In fact, he argues, the Concord community of farmers achieved a remarkably successful and sustainable system of local production.
Donahue describes in precise detail—using among other tools an innovative historical geographical information system (GIS) method—how land was settled and how mixed husbandry was developed in Concord. By reconstructing several farm neighborhoods and following them through many generations, he reveals the care with which farmers managed the land, soil, and water. He concludes that ecological degradation came to Concord only later, when nineteenth-century economic and social forces undercut the environmental balance that earlier colonial farmers had nurtured.
Brian Donahue is associate professor of American environmental studies on the Jack Meyerhoff Foundation, Brandeis University.
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