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Published April 21, 2020

A Virginia Humanities funded documentary is scheduled to air on Virginia Public Media PBS stations on April 30 at 9PM.

The film, Invisible Thread: The Story of Peanuts in Western Tidewater, tells a Virginia story that few people know.

Since the late nineteenth century, peanuts have shaped every part of life in Western Tidewater, especially in Suffolk, which has been the center of peanut processing and marketing since the 1880s, and Southampton County, which is the heart of peanut farming in Virginia, even today.

Peanuts probably came to Virginia from Africa, aboard slave ships, but they originated in South America and eventually made their way to Asia and to Europe—and to West Africa, carried by early European explorers.

Tune in to watch the film and hear the story of peanuts in Virginia from the perspectives of those who know peanut farming, processing, and marketing first-hand. People like Rex and Bob Alphin, farmers in Isle of Wight County; Sue Woodward, a historian with the Suffolk-Nansemond Historical Society; Lynda Updike, a Southampton County farmer and president of the Southampton County Historical Society; and many others.

Check your local listings for a station in your area.

  • WCVE 23.1 greater Richmond area
  • WHTJ 41.1 Charlottesville area 
  • WVPT 51.1 Harrisonburg area
Vanessa Adkins, right, is apprenticing under her cousin Jessica Canaday Stewart learning the finer points of traditional Chickahominy dancing. Photos taken at the Fall Festival and Pow Wow in Charles City on Saturday, Sept. 22, 2012.

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