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O’Neal Smalls and Maggie the mule plow between the okra plants at Freewoods Farms in the Burgess community on Thursday. Ideally, he said wiping sweat from his face, the plowing would have been done in June. But, the president and chairman of the privately funded living history farm board of directors said it has been a wet summer. In addition to the weather, the farm is also dealing with canceled events they’ve relied on for funding. Freewoods Farms, which was wetlands and was not part of a plantation, was named by slaves as free woods. Smalls said the name stuck through the years as people were freed, built bush huts to live and farm the land. He added the farmers formed communities, fraternities, built homes, churches and schools. Eventually mechanism and the civil rights movement occurred around the same time in the small community leading younger families to sell the land and leave the area in search of jobs, educational opportunities and a different way of life. Now, Smalls glances to the stretch of pine trees hugging the back side of the 40 acres, a new housing development may be coming to the community and adjoin the farm property. Photo by Janet Morgan/janet.morgan@myhorrynews.com

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