34. Tenant Farming

Numerous tenant farmers, black and white, made their homes and livelihoods at Oak View. The words sharecropper and tenant farmer, though often used interchangeably, historically described differing economic levels of farmers. Tenant farmers often had a more stable living and working arrangement with the landowner since they supplied their own animals and equipment for farming the land. At harvest time, on average tenants paid the landowner around 25% of the profits from their crops. Sharecroppers, on the other hand, rarely had their own farming equipment, so everything had to be rented from the landowner. Come harvest, sharecroppers could end up owing the landowner as much as 50-75% of their earnings. Whether employed as tenants or sharecroppers, landless farmers frequently were forced to borrow money and equipment from the landowner and ended the year in debt to their employers.