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Efficiency, Sufficiency, and Recent Change in Newfoundland Subsistence Horticulture

John T. Omohundro
Human Ecology
Vol. 13, No. 3 (Sep., 1985), pp. 291-308
Published by: Springer
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4602784
Page Count: 18
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Efficiency, Sufficiency, and Recent Change in Newfoundland Subsistence Horticulture
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Abstract

Traditional Newfoundland horticulture has been a subordinate and compensatory element of the subsistence sphere in a plural economy centered on fishing. Criticized as inefficient and ruinous to the land, this tuber-root-brassica gardening has in fact been a valuable contribution to diet, is relatively efficient, and compensates for the inadequacies of land and weather. Field data from the Great Northern Peninsula, where some traditional practices persist, demonstrate that the practices conserve time and labor, and substitute massive applications of materials to assure a yield sufficient for household needs. The inefficiency in the tradition may be understood as a response to the constraints upon household labor and follows a kind of Leibig's law of the minimum. Recent changes in gardening practices reveal the dynamics of horticulture in the household's mixed economic strategy. As cash and land have become more common, they have been used to further reduce time while maintaining sufficiency.

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