Valley Rewind: agricultural workers

Special to Black Mountain News
In this undated photograph from the museum’s collections, Bill Phillips drives his horse-drawn cultivator through a field.

This month, the Swannanoa Valley Museum and History Center is highlighting photos from its collections that feature historic working people of the Swannanoa Valley. In this undated photograph from the museum’s collections, Bill Phillips drives his horse-drawn cultivator through a field. For over 8,000 years, agriculture has been one of the predominant forms of labor in the Swannanoa Valley. Indigenous communities cultivated corn, tobacco, beans and sumpweed in the rich soil of the Swannanoa River’s floodplain. Later, after colonization, Swannanoa Valley residents produced many of the same crops - along with imports such as apples and sorghum - to feed their families or to generate income. Today, farmland in the valley is rapidly disappearing, giving way to housing developments. Many local residents now work in health care, retail and manufacturing industries.