Land Use Change in a Piedmont County

John Fraser Hart

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


Carroll County, Georgia, is a microcosm of the southern Piedmont, where cotton has lost its former dominance. No replacement crop is available for erstwhile forty-acres-and-a-mule yeoman cottom farms that are much too small for modern agricultural technology, and only a few entrepreneurs have managed to assemble acreages large enough for successful farm operations. Much former cotton land has been abandoned to scrubby, second-growth woodland, which might well be an “acreage reserve” that could be brought back into agricultural production at such time as the United States no longer has a surplus of farm land. Some former cotton land has been bought by paper companies and planted in loblolly pine. The remaining cleared land in the county is used for pastures of highly variable quality that carry small herds of beef cattle. Poultry production, which is essentially a factory operation, provides three-quarters of all farm income, but most poultry farmers must supplement their income with off-farm jobs. Rising employment in manufacturing has absorbed much of the surplus rural labor force, which has “migrated to the blacktop” for easier commuting. Unpainted shacks on unimproved back roads have been abandoned by people who have moved to the modern rural nonfarm houses that cordon the highways. Many abandoned cotton farms are so small that city people have been able to afford to buy them as a hedge against inflation. One wooded area of 2,400 acres has been acquired for a second home/resort/retirement development that merely happens to be in the county.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)492-527
Number of pages36
JournalAnnals of the Association of American Geographers
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 1980


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