Boxwell the Farm: Tobacco
There was cattle (red). There were hogs (blue). And there was also tobacco (green). On some level, the tobacco shouldn’t be a huge surprise as Tennessee has been a huge tobacco state almost since its inception. Nevertheless, the idea of tobacco being grown and sold from a Scout camp seems a little off somehow.
Still, there it was. Down by the pig farm, there was approximately an acre and a half of land where tobacco was grown and harvested. The tobacco here was actually irrigated off of Akers Lake, so it would grow regardless of rain or shine. According to Larry Green, there was pump with six inch pipe running off of it. The pipe was run down throw the field with fingers off of it to water the plants.
Generally, the tobacco was harvested by three full timer rangers: Punkin Green, Bill Harris, and Farmer Bush. Staff members were often enlisted to help with this work as well after camp was over.
According to Kerry Parker, there was also a tobacco bed in the back part of Camp Murrey. This was a much smaller field than the one by the pig farm. Here, tobacco seedlings were grown to then be moved to the main field or sold to other tobacco farmers. Green suggests there was another field by Purnell Road.
The tobacco was no longer grown by Boxwell after 1976, but the reservation held on to the land (and the other lots secured by Akers, totaling about 3 acres), referred to as a tobacco base (how much land the Department of Agriculture you were allowed to grow tobacco on), for many more years, which was rented out to local farmers. As Green explained, “We did that [renting out the tobacco base] up until 1995… In fact, the year I became Reservation Director, the Scout Executive, which was Ken Connelly, said to me, ‘You know, Larry, do we really, as Boy Scouts, do we really need to be raising tobacco, or be associated with tobacco? And I said, ‘Well, it’s up to you.”
So, despite bringing in five or six thousand dollars a year, the tobacco base was let go and Boxwell got out of the tobacco business.
Next week: Row Crops!
The areas in green show where the tobacco was at Boxwell.