The Great Meadow: Farmers and the Land in Colonial Concord

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Overview


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.
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Editorial Reviews

Mart Stewart
"I used The Great Meadow in my graduate seminar in American Environmental History last winter, and it was a great success. I think the book appealed to the students because it is so grounded in the real world of living on the land in colonial New England, and also because it reveals the previously ignored land wisdom of colonial farmers. This is a good teaching book for both graduate students and upper-level history majors."—Mart Stewart, Western Washington University
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780300123692
  • Publisher: Yale University Press
  • Publication date: 6/12/2007
  • Series: Yale Agrarian Studies Series
  • Pages: 344
  • Product dimensions: 6.60 (w) x 9.70 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author


 
 

Brian Donahue is associate professor of American environmental studies on the Jack Meyerhoff Foundation, Brandeis University.
 

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Table of Contents

Ch. 1 Introduction 1
Ch. 2 Musketaquid : the native ecological system 24
Ch. 3 Mixed husbandry : the English ecological system 54
Ch. 4 The first division and the common field system 74
Ch. 5 The second division 102
Ch. 6 Settling the east quarter 128
Ch. 7 The ecological structure of colonial farming 155
Ch. 8 A town of limits 197
Ch. 9 Epilogue : beyond the meadows 221
App. 1 Genealogies 235
App. 2 East quarter land use, by deeds and valuations - 1749 243
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