Meet The Enslaved Gardener Who Helped Commercialize Pecans

Briona Lamback
March 13, 2023

The holidays wouldn’t be the same without pecans. We have one man to thank for their popularity.

Meet Antoine. He was a talented gardener enslaved on Louisiana’s Oak Alley Plantation. Antoine’s skills were out of this world.

He developed a method of cultivating individual pecan trees that no one had ever done before. Antoine’s grafting technique allowed him to create offspring matching the parent plants’ characteristics. This type of uniformity is necessary for growing commercial crops. 

It wasn’t easy work.

Many before him tried to produce pecan trees but failed. Antoine figured it out and became known as a master of plants. 

Of course, he didn’t get his flowers while he was alive, someone copied his technique, and the commercial pecan industry was born. Today, pecans are grown in fourteen states and on every continent except Antarctica.

Like Antoine, we should never be afraid to pursue our talents. We’ve always been dreamers, creators, artists, and cultivators. Anti-Blackness could never stop that.

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