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Agricultural Heritage

The Three Sisters – The Foundation of Agriculture in the NC Mountains

For thousands of years, Native Americans cultivated the fertile valleys of the Blue Ridge mountains of North Carolina, raising the “three sisters”—corn, beans and squash—which were the staples of their diet. The Cherokee used “slash and burn” techniques to clear small areas of forested land and fertilize the soil.

European immigrants brought many of their agricultural practices with them as they settled in the mountains, but soon adopted many Cherokee crops and techniques which had been refined over centuries. This blending of immigrant agricultural practices with Native American traditions in the mountains and foothills of North Carolina resulted in a distinctive regional agricultural heritage.

Agricultural Heritage Continues Today in the Blue Ridge Mountains

Today, traditional crops continue to be cultivated along with many newer introductions—specialty crops such as Christmas trees, ornamentals, mushrooms, herbs, and wine grapes.

Listen to some interesting stories about our Appalachian Agricultural Heritage in our Sights & Sounds Gallery.  Just click below: