The Cackalacky Garden is a demonstration garden at the Duke Campus Farm.  In it, we grow a variety of North Carolina cash crops: tobacco, cotton, okra, peanuts, benne, indigo, and more.  The garden is offered as a resource and a teaching tool to connect with plants that are familiar to this land.

Cackalacky teaches us about the complex history of the Duke Campus Farm and Duke Forest at large as a site of displacement, enslavement, and injustice. The plants we grow here are an entry point to investigating the agricultural practices that have created a legacy of ecological injustice, land degradation, and soil unhealth in our region. We hope to braid the realities of violence with the beauty and resilience of this land and her inhabitants and stewards.


This plot cues us to consider the economic pressures and institutions that impact agricultural practices and to imagine alternative relationships to land. By showcasing North Carolina's cash crops, we can enter into conversation about the downfalls of monoculture and industrial agriculture and challenge its underlying assumption that more is always better. We do this by discussing downfalls of large scale monoculture and by offering alternative models of growth that are less extractive and more sustainable. We ask what it might be like to imagine an economic system that does not extract from or exploit the body and land, but rather nourishes both.


All the crops grown in Cackalacky are heirloom varieties that have featured heavily in the agriculture of the Piedmont. This plot honors the importance of heirlooms for preserving biodiversity and offers a tool for our farm to engage with food sovereignty, seed sovereignty, and seed saving practices. We learn the benefits of growing multiple varieties and continue to contribute to the wealth and diversity of our particular food system.



Practicing Biocultural Restoration at the Duke Campus Farm

Students used the Cackalacky Heritage Garden as a site to engage with biocultural restoration, or "the healing of place-based relationships alongside the revitalization of cultures and the environment." Explore their storyboard to learn more about the history of the land we're farming and the crops we honor in the Cackalacky Heritage Plot.

What This Land Has Seen Storyboard