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Surviving the Anthropocene by Growing Communities one Seed at a Time with Catawba Trail Farms


Delphine Sellars, Brian McAdoo, Roo Jackson

The Earth and Climate Science (ECS) 210 class, "Exploring Earth Sciences: Surviving the Anthropocene in North Carolina" looks at global change through the lens of different natural resources in our state, including soil and agriculture in the context of environmental justice and food security. The Catawba Trail Farm's (CTF) mission to ensure our community has access to fresh food and open spaces is right in line with the class goals. Dr. Brian McAdoo has partnered with CTF to learn about the historical loss of Black farms and the impact on food insecure communities and has used state-of-the-art geophysical survey equipment to locate the unmarked graves of Enslaved people who worked the land in the 18th century. The projects have been mutually beneficial in that the students deliver a report to CTF based on their findings. This project started with the purpose of assessing if there are other individuals interred at the William Johnston gravesite, the oldest marked gravesite in Durham County. There is a gravesite ledger in place and we wanted to know if there are individuals actually buried here or is this just a ledger, a marker placed here in remembrance of the first European to own the property known as the Snow Hill Plantation which is part of the larger plantation system known at Stagville Plantation. Through the work of Dr. McAdoo and his students, it was determined that there are probably 20 or more individuals buried on the property. Unbeknownst to all, as determined by the depth and breath of the graves, located through lidar ground penetrating radar, the majority of the graves are those of the enslaved. This has morphed into a larger project where we will work in collaboration with others to honor all those buried on the property. Please register using the event URL:


Civic Engagement/Social Action, Diversity/Inclusion, Human Rights, Lecture/Talk, Multicultural/Identity, Panel/Seminar/Colloquium, Politics, Research, Social Sciences, Sustainability, Teaching & Classroom Learning, United States Focus, Webcast