67-County Alabama Garden Party: Lawrence County


The Alabama honeysuckle border was inspired by an 18th century, Southern applique quilt.

The Cullman Tribune is celebrating the Alabama Bicentennial (1819-2019) with statewide field reporting by Alabama Master Gardener/Botanical Artist Ben Johnson South. This year-long feature, "The 67-County Alabama Garden Party," will spotlight different counties each week. Each county will get its own "quilt block," along with a historical profile, and we'll share a recipe specific to the area. At the end of the year, all 67 counties will be put in a book to commemorate the Bicentennial.

Lawrence County

“Mama never had a flower garden, ‘cause cotton grew right up to our front door.”

Whenever I hear Tanya Tucker sing those beginning lines from “I Believe The South is Gonna Rise Again,” the classic, progressive country song (if that’s not an oxymoron), it takes me to the Lawrence County of my childhood.

My mama’s people were Lawrence County farmers, and indeed, cotton grew right up to their front porch, which, no matter how many times you took a broom after it, was destined to have red dirt footprints. Mama was pretty, smart and proper, but daddy always said he was determined to marry her because she could fill a cotton sack faster than any girl in north Alabama.

Lawrence County was established in Feb. 1818, just 25 years after Eli Whitney, a Yankee schoolteacher living in Georgia, invented the cotton gin. Whitney’s miracle machine made growing upland short cotton commercially compelling throughout the Southland.  One-thousand pounds of ginned cotton was shipped to England in 1793 and 4.5 million bales in 1861. Cotton was king in Alabama, and it was mostly small-time growers in Lawrence County who planted, chopped and made the fibrous plants thrive here.

People in this part of Alabama have pluck. Pluck can triumph lousy, natural luck. Lawrence County has weathered pestilence, economic depression, erosion and drought. They have endured and even triumphed because they have pluck. Pluck is spirited and determined courage, boldness, nerve, fortitude. Pluck and persistence are qualities which allow one to plow through the hard times. Jesse Owens, “The Fastest Man in America,” and the hero runner of the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, hails from Oakville. And Confederate General “Fighting Joe” Wheeler was from a cotton plantation at Pond Spring. Folks from Lawrence County, like those native sons, have a bushel and a peck of pluck.

Rockabilly and “Rock of Ages” is the soundtrack for Lawrence County, along with birdsong and bushhoggin’ the pastureland. An old, farm-to-market road out of Moulton is named for native son, Rockabilly star and Mama’s cousin, Gordon Terry. Rockabilly is what occurs when rock-and-roll cottons up to hillbilly music. Think Elvis before Vegas and painted, city women ruint him.

He would turn red hearing me say this, but George Brackin, a Lawrence County transmission mechanic, might be the closest I’ve ever come to knowing Jesus on earth. Every Thursday for 20 years, Brackin, an African-American, self-taught cook, would have the cars and trucks in his garage pulled out of the bays and he and his workers would put up folding tables which would be sagging with home-grown bounty. Collards, fresh corn, turnip greens, sweet potatoes, sliced tomatoes, cornbread, sweet tea and whatever local game hunters provided were laid out free for all. Gathered round the makeshift dining tables would be people of various races and stations in life. The times I was there, someone would offer a short prayer thanking God for the food, but the main Bible lesson was really the generous spirit of Brackin and the goodness plucked from this red-dirt Eden.

Here are other positive and pleasurable ways PLANTS + PEOPLE come together in Lawrence County, including a splendid recipe for a yard eggs and locally-grown squash frittata:

*LAWRENCE COUNTY FARMERS’ MARKETS- Tthere are two, and each offers seasonal and locally-grown variety; Moulton—13182 Alabama Highway 157, April 28-October 30; Town Creek—15992 Main Street, Saturdays, May-October

*LAWRENCE COUNTY U-PICK- LouAllen Farms (Moulton) strawberries, peaches, greenhouse bedding plants, vegetables; Billy Reed Farmstand (Trinity)

*RED LAND COTTON- Local farm girl, Anna Yeager Brakefield, does good; after college and thriving as a big city marketer, this Moulton, sweet-as-a-rose-but-tough-as-an-oak, agribusiness heroine came home to build an Alabama-made brand with her cotton farming dad. Red Land Cotton has a charming store on the square in downtown Moulton, where everything it offers comes from the cotton plants of the Yeager’s Lawrence County farm. I bought a set of “farmhouse chic” cotton ticking pillowcases that are so well-made, they’ll be on earth when Jesus comes back.

*PLANTING AN IDEA- Last year, I was honored to be a “pie judge” at the Lawrence County Fair. Yeah, I know, tough job, but somebody’s gotta do it. The pies, cakes, breads, cookies, fancy and humble, were all scrumptious. Also, I got to help judge the armloads of locally-gardened flowers. People in this part of Alabama have added beauty and deliciousness to their often hardscrabble, daily lives for 200 years. A fun and tasty idea I’d like to propose is the Lawrence County Lions Club, which hosts the fair each fall, and the local Alabama Cooperative Extension Agent Donna Shanklin get together and explore adding organic cotton candy tastings to the midway at the fair. There’s a company online called Cotton Cravings that offers affordable little tubs of seasoned, organic sugar in flavors like cinnamon, apple, peach and maple bacon. This could be a fun and tasty way for the Extension service to also talk about exploring new recipes for healthier eating and portion control. Maybe some Lawrence County farming entrepreneur could make Sweet Potato Pie Cotton Candy a new Thanksgiving tradition.

Y’ALL COME to Lawrence County on your 67-County Alabama Garden Party tour. I promise you’ll cotton to it.

Many thanks to Donna Shanklin, Lawrence County coordinator, Alabama Cooperative Extension System and the Yeager family of Red Land Cotton. And, God bless George Brackin and the many other good people of Lawrence County.


Hon, what in the land o’ Goshen is a frittata? That’s the first question my Lawrence County granny would ask. But, she and everybody from Hillsboro to metropolitan Moulton would savor this simple, healthy, inexpensive, skillet-cooked eggs-and-zucchini dish. I’m imagining it with salad greens from a side garden, homemade cornbread and Aunt Cille’s iced tea, which was so sweet you could stand a spoon up in it.


  • 4 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 large Lawrence County zucchini squash, thinly sliced in rounds
  • 1 medium Lawrence County onion, chopped
  • 1 tbsp. fresh oregano leaves (chopped)
  • 4 garlic cloves (finely chopped)
  • 8 large Lawrence County eggs
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper
  • 1/4 cup fresh mozzarella, cubed (about 4 ounces)


  1. Preheat oven to 350F. On top of stove, heat 2 tbsp. oil in a 10-inch oven-proof skillet. Add zucchini, onion, oregano, and garlic and cook, stirring often, until vegetables are slightly softened, 8-10 minutes.
  2. Whisk eggs, salt and red pepper until combined. Add remaining 2 tbsp. oil to skillet, distributed evenly. Pour egg mixture over vegetables and shake skillet to settle eggs. Cook over medium heat until edges begin to set, 2 to 3 minutes. Top with cheese.
  3. Transfer skillet to oven and cook until top is just set, 13-15 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool slightly.
  4. Gently slide frittata out of skillet and season with more crushed red pepper. Add ground black pepper and salt to taste.

Serves 4

Also, check out Alabama Bicentennial: 200 ways to save Alabama for the next 200 years.

Copyright 2019 Humble Roots, LLC. All Rights Reserved.