Tending the Commons: Folklife and Landscape in Southern West Virginia
Ramp Suppers, Biodiversity, and the Integrity of "The Mountains"
The Ramp House on Drew's Creek
Biodiversity has been protected through the flourishing of cultural diversity. Utilizing indigenous knowledge systems, cultures have built decentralized economies and production systems that use and reproduce biodiversity. Monocultures, by contrast, which are produced and reproduced through centralized control, consume biodiversity.1
Historically, in these mountains, female sociality has flourished around the gathering and processing of greens and other wild produce. On the heels of ramps a host of other greens start popping up: dandelions, poke, shawnee lettuce, woolen britches, creasies, and lamb's tongue. And around these, women have fashioned womens' worlds. "That was the big deal when everybody used to go green picking," said Carrie...
The Easter Onion Poem
Years gone by, still they gather Tribute to a heritage, gloried past Easter onions, in Appalachia called ramps Family, friends, people from far and wide.
The Commons of "The Mountains" Ramp patches in the mountains have long functioned as a common resource. Most of the ramps served at the ramp supper, some fifteen bushels full, do not come from peoples' personal patches. They come from the upper-elevation coves rising high above the Ramp House. "I've got a few planted up the holler here," said Dennis Dickens, of Peachtree Creek,...
Reading the Cultural Landscape
The hills rising away from the Ramp House are rich in family and community history. Names bestowed on every wrinkle in the ridgeline commemorate people, events, and moments in the seasonal round. What appears to be a jumble of coves, ridges, creeks, knobs, branches, gaps, and forks is as legible to some residents as a metropolitan grid is to an urbanite. "These different little...
The Cultural Landscape of Hazy Creek Many of the ramps for this year's ramp supper came from Hazy Creek, a long, lush, meandering hollow that hooks around Shumate's Branch like a sheltering arm. Hundreds of people lived at the mouth of Hazy in the 1940s when the coal town of Edwight was the bustling hub of the river between Whitesville and Glen Daniel. Though...