Urban Farming in the West
A New Deal Experiment in Subsistence Homesteads
Robert Carriker examines for the first time the intricate histories of these subsistence homestead projects, which have long been buried in bureaucratic records and clouded by misunderstanding, showing that in many ways they were among the agency’s most successful efforts. He provides case studies of the projects, rescuing their obscure histories using archival documents and rare photographs. He also reveals the machinations of civic groups and private citizens across the West who jockeyed for access to the funds being allotted for New Deal community building.
By describing what took place on these western homesteads, Carriker shows that the DSH’s agenda was not as far-fetched as some have reported. The tendency to condemn the Division and its projects, he argues, has failed to appreciate the good that came from some of the individual homestead communities—particularly those in the Far West.
Although overshadowed by the larger undertakings of the New Deal, some of these western communities remain thriving neighborhoods—living legacies to FDR’s efforts that show how the country once chose to deal with economic hardship. Too often the DSH is noted for its failures; Carriker’s study shows that its western homesteads were instead qualified accomplishments.
“Carriker provides a valuable account of the inner workings of the Urban Homesteads project and treats an interesting variety of personalities involved in the story.” —Richard W. Etulain, author of Does the Frontier Experience Make America Exceptional?