1850 Produce

by Brandon Smith

The agricultural census of 1850 provided some good insight to how an average mid-nineteenth century garden might look. The census detailed several types of different vegetables that were both consumed and taken to market by small farmers. The census included the different aspects of all counties in South Carolina. Included were lists of the produce recorded throughout the county with the census ending June 1, 1850.

By far, the most prevalent "garden vegetable" had to be the sweet potato. Nearly every record of produce included some amount of this staple crop. The average farmer grew about 70 bushels of sweet potatoes in one year with a rare few growing up to 1000 bushels. The total amount of sweet potatoes reported in 1850 was 79827 bushels. The other vegetables that might appear in an 1850 farm wagon were peas, beans, and Irish potatoes. Peas and beans were counted together in bushels. Almost the same amount of people who grew peas and beans grew Irish potatoes, and everyone who grew sweet potatoes also grew peas, beans, and Irish potatoes.

Barley was grown sparingly, as was orchard produce such as apples, pears, peaches, etc. While several orchards did exist, only six farmers were recorded as having made any revenue from orchard produce. Other orchards producing fruit had to be on the small, family scale.

These crops were transported in barrels or potatoes sacks and were measured in bushels. Bushels are the equivalent of one cubic foot. *

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