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Oral Histories

The SFA oral history program documents life stories from the American South. Collecting these stories, we honor the people whose labor defines the region. If you would like to contribute to SFA’s oral history collections, please send your ideas for oral history along with your CV or Resume and a portfolio of prior oral history work to

< Back to Oral History project: Downtown Greenwood Farmers’ Market


John D. Ashcraft III

A native of Florence, Alabama, John D. Ashcraft Jr. and his family arrived in Sidon, Mississippi, in 1935. John Jr. stayed on the family land, raised a family of his own, and farmed cotton and soybeans on Roebuck Plantation until he retired in 1972. Sixteen years later, he decided to have a go at blueberries and recruited his sons, John Edwin Gilliam and John D. III, to join him.

John D. Ashcraft III—and probably most of the Delta—thought his father was a little crazy to plant blueberries that far north. Even so, John and his brother jumped on board and helped their father carve out acreage to plant 3,000 blueberry bushes in 1988. That same year they joined the Miss-Lou (Mississippi-Louisiana) Blueberry Growers Cooperative.  From the beginning, they have enjoyed bountiful harvests of Delta-grown blueberries, sold plenty to the co-op, and established a loyal group of local customers, some of whom enjoy visiting the farm to pick their own fruit.

In 2009, John D. Ashcraft Jr. passed away. John D. III and his brother stepped up from behind the shadow of their father to carry on the family business.

In 2010, Roebuck Plantation Blueberry Farm was invited to be a part of the Downtown Greenwood Farmers’ Market. Even though the season for blueberries is so short (anywhere from six to eight weeks in June and July), John D. III jumped at the opportunity to sell his fruit at the Market. He figured it’s something his father would do, and he likes making connections with the people who enjoy his blueberries.

John D. Ashcraft III passed away on Wednesday, October 15, 2014. He was 62 years old.

Date of interview:

Amy Evans

Amy Evans

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The Southern Foodways Alliance drives a more progressive future by leading conversations that challenge existing constructs, shape perspectives, and foster meaningful discussions. We reconsider the past with research, scrutiny, and documentation.


Alex Raij Txikito

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