Buckwheat in the Blue Ridge: Cultural History and Sustainable Future

Buckwheat production once played a prominent part in the agricultural life of the central and southern Appalachians. Production waned in the latter 1/2 of the 20th century as farmers switched to more profitable crops, but with less sustainable methods. It had filled an important niche in small scale, "safety first" farming. Its preference for higher altitudes and a moist climate fit the mountains along with its tolerance for poorer soils, frost, and its short time to maturity.

Can buckwheat make a comeback like the lowly grits which are now haute cuisine? Sorghum seems to be doing the same thing. More buckwheat would improve the Appalachian diet being highly nutritious, high fiber, quality protein, and gluten free.

Besides the flour and the seeds (groats, which are a mainstay in some countries such as the Ukraine), it is a good cover crop, green manure, and bees love it.