Author ORCID Identifier

Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Master of Science in Community & Leadership Development

Document Type

Master's Thesis


Agriculture, Food and Environment


Community and Leadership Development

First Advisor

Dr. Karen Rignall


This thesis explores agricultural livelihoods in Harlan County with two case studies in order to challenge dominant narratives about Eastern Kentucky. Harlan County, and Appalachia more broadly, is often written about in terms of its relationship to extractive industries. Absentee landownership in Appalachia has been well documented, especially in the case of coal counties. However, the relationship between extraction and agricultural livelihoods in Appalachia warrants more attention. The story of agricultural livelihoods in the region is often pushed to the periphery much like the practices of “hillside” farming. While geography makes much of the land unsuitable for farming in Harlan County, a small number of farmers have seemingly persisted through time. Preliminary findings suggest an intricate relationship between coal production, land access, and livelihood diversification through agriculture.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)