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George Washington Carver - and Peanuts - Helped Save Southern Farmland

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George Washington Carver was born a year before the emancipation of enslaved people and was raised by a white family who treated him as a son. A somewhat sickly child, he concentrated on education but opportunities were limited for him. Eventually, he studied art at a mid-western school and through those connections was the first black student accepted at Iowa State University, earning an advanced degree. Booker T. Washington pleaded with Carver to come to the all-black Tuskegee Institute, where he did pioneering work into crop rotation. Southern farmers planted cotton year after year with dwindling yields from the depleted fields. His introduction of planting peanuts after cotton changed the face of agriculture in the south. Members of the legume family, peanuts added nitrogen to those worn out soils.

Amanda McNulty is a Clemson University Extension Horticulture agent and the host of South Carolina ETV’s Making It Grow! gardening program. She studied horticulture at Clemson University as a non-traditional student. “I’m so fortunate that my early attempts at getting a degree got side tracked as I’m a lot better at getting dirty in the garden than practicing diplomacy!” McNulty also studied at South Carolina State University and earned a graduate degree in teaching there.