Southern Agrarianism and the culture of the Old South

More Than Just Food

There is a temptation to look at a vegetable garden as a home-grown food factory, where efficiency is the driving factor. I suspect that most of us have gone through that phase. We try to squeeze the most production out of every last bit of garden space – if it doesn’t put food on the table, then it’s given the same status as a weed.

We need to change that. We need to remember why we grow things, and why we feel a deep connection with the land and with our people. Southern Agrarianism is very much a cultural matter, and our culture has always placed a high value on beauty. We see it in the art, the architecture, and the music of our European heritage. It is an important part of who we are. To that end, we need to remember that there is an aesthetic, almost spiritual, aspect to raising our own food. I make it a point to try to make my garden areas as visually attractive as I can. I plant flowers (usually Zinnias) among the vegetables, both for cut flowers and to attract pollinators into the garden. The garden fence is covered with both bush roses and climbing roses (Old Blush, a vintage rose that requires virtually no care).

A garden is to enjoy – not just to provide our families with fresh eggs and healthy vegetables. It is there to show our children and grandchildren that food does not originate wrapped in cellophane and Styrofoam packaging. It is a very real part of home schooling – no matter where the formal lessons are held.

A garden doesn’t have to look like something from a magazine cover to be beautiful – no garden looks perfectly groomed at all times. Just remember that it is there to be enjoyed, and beauty makes it enjoyable.

This is a 90-second tour of our little one-acre homestead that I put together this past Friday.


  1. Dennis L Peterson

    Love the peach part of the video!

    • Stephen Clay McGehee

      Thanks, Dennis. For some reason, this year’s crop is nowhere near as good as in previous years. I am continually amazed at how much there is to learn, even though I’ve been doing this for decades. I’ll be learning until the day I die.

  2. Chad

    I agree. It’s about more than good food. It’s about what constitutes a good life; a point that was repeatedly emphasized in “I’ll Take My Stand.”

    Nice place you got there!

    • Stephen Clay McGehee

      Thanks, Chad. That’s what is so attractive about Southern Agrarianism – at least it is to those of us on the rural side of the rural/urban divide. The late Sir Roger Scruton did a wonderful job of explaining Why Beauty Matters (well worth the time to watch).

      • Chad

        I’ve put it on my list. Thanks!


  3. Christopher Bogart

    Great post! Beauty in a culture and nation should be extremely important. God even stated this in Genesis 2:9 that he first made the trees pleasant to the SIGHT and good for food. Thank you Steve!


    • Stephen Clay McGehee

      Thank you, sir!

  4. Jeb


  5. J. D. King

    Nice video, Stephen! Good to see the blog active again. I hope your summer has been as good as mine.

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