George Washington Carver

Courtesy of the USPS

George Washington Carver, USPS Stamp

I’ve been thinking a lot about this guy lately.  Have you heard of him? George Washington Carver was one pretty amazing dude.  He was a botanist that pretty much saved southern American farmers.  He was an inspired inventor who turned down tons of money to become an educator.  He’s an inspiration… to me.

Born in 1864 to parents whom were slaves, as an infant his family was kidnapped by slave traders.  His original “owner” could only negotiate the release of baby George.  This was right at the time slavery was ending and his owners became his family.  They raised George as their own and taught him the importance of education.

Education was difficult for George.  His long fight to attend school as a kid paid off.  In 1891, he became the first black student enrolled in Botany at Iowa State’s Agricultural College.

Fast forward ahead: George studied soil and noticed how the cotton crops were failing because of depleted nutrients.  George is credited for introducing crop rotation, a method we organic gardeners rely on today.  His crops to rotate primarily consisted of cotton, soy, sweet potatoes, and peanuts.  These four crops rotated regularly cleaned and naturally fed the soil saving farmers, especially in our southern states.

So what do these farmers do with all of the extra soy, sweet potatoes, and peanuts?  Leave it to George to invent ways to use the extra harvest.   Things like bleach, axle grease, instant coffee, synthetic rubber and a whole bunch of other genius uses for his new cash crops.

Later in his life, George passed up the opportunity to become a big business inventor to settle for the life of Head Professor at Tuskegee Institutes’ Agricultural Department.  He taught future generations of farmers his crop rotation techniques essentially making our world a better place.

George Washington Carver was one awesome gardening dude.  Look him up, there’s so much more about him to learn.

GW Carver

Carver’s Virtues

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