Biocultural Diversity and the Political Ecology of Climate Change on Appalachian Orchards

Date and Time: 
Thursday, 16 May, 2013 - 16:00 to 16:20
VETETO, James R. - University of North Texas
Stephen B. CARLSON - University of North Texas

Southern/Central Appalachia is home to at least 633 distinct varieties of landrace apples, contributing to its status as the most diverse foodshed in the US, Canada, and northern Mexico.  This paper investigates the biocultural diversity of Appalachian orchards and grower perceptions of climate change.  Research to-date on the relationship between climate change and agriculture has focused on annual crops.  Long-term perennial crops such as apple trees give researchers the chance to study a more longitudinal record of human-climate interactions.  In Appalachia, one of the earliest orchard areas in the United States, many orchards have been run by single families for multiple generations, and both oral histories and grower records contain climate information stretching back several decades or longer.  Appalachia is historically a region with conservative political beliefs and the circulation of information about climate change is often limited to tight-knit social groups and networks.  This research investigates climatic observations about the diversity of apple trees on Appalachian orchards while simultaneously giving attention to the ways in which political beliefs influence the attribution of ultimate causes to articulated changes in local weather patterns.