Women's History Month - Women in Agriculture #6 - Carolyn Kegler
Ms. Carolyn was born and raised in Memphis, Tennessee. Memphis is a city that was established along the Mississippi River and is one of the more historic and culturally significant cities of the southern United States. As part of the largest cities of the Antebellum South, its market was for agricultural goods, natural resources like lumber, and the American slave trade. Then later after the American Civil war and the end of slavery it became the largest world market for cotton and lumber. Memphis means established and beautiful. Which is a great way to describe Ms. Carolyn's story as her connection with agriculture started at the tender age of 7. When she was a little girl she went to live with her grandpa. She admired her grandpa and she followed him around on the land that he owned. He would forage for herbs to make medicines for them to use. Then he would plow the land with the hoe and rake and then he would make the rows. Then he would plant the seeds. Her family hardly ever went to the market because they had everything in the garden. They had chickens and roosters and even hogs and piglets. They had a huge smoke house for the meats. She learned so many things with her grandpa. He taught her how and where to plant the seeds. They always planted seeds on Good Friday and her grandpa always had an almanac. In the Fall Garden they planted popcorn, peanuts and collard greens. They even had trees like fig, apple, pear and peach trees in addition to walnut and pecan trees. YUM! Then when it came time to harvest it was a treat for her because her grandpa let her eat anything that she wanted. Her grandpa always knew when to harvest for canning. She was always there with him watching and learning the entire process. He taught her how to can as well. She enjoyed and took pride in helping him every year. Ms. Carolyn learned a lot from her grandpa. She gardened with him until the age of 17 when she I got married, but she would always go back to help him.
At the age of 46, she moved to Minnesota and her and her son Will (The Barber) purchased a home and then she began gardening again. Will, her son, is and will always by her side just as she was with her grandpa. She has been teaching him about gardening as well. Minnesota is in a different climate than Tennessee and so she plants her seeds each year after Mother's Day. Always keeping in mind what her grandpa instilled in her from when they started their garden. Ms. Carolyn wants us to learn that we should always give back to Mother Earth. Her family would always give offerings to her, tobacco and yellow ground cornmeal. "You give to Mother Earth and she will always give back to YOU. I try to tell people what I know, whom ever is interested."
We salute Ms. Carolyn Kegler, a woman in agricultural history during this lovely month of March!