Campus News

Book details an unlikely partnership formed over peanuts

George Washington Carver was an American agricultural scientist at the Tuskegee Institute. Tom Huston was a company boss who wanted to grow his business. Together, they built an unlikely partnership to grow the peanut industry in the South by addressing the problems of real farmers.

“More Than Peanuts” explores the relationship between Bob Barry, a white executive with the Tom Huston Peanut Company; Grady Porter, a white Tom Huston Peanut Company employee; George Washington Carver, a black agricultural genius; and Tom Huston himself. By examining the letters they wrote to one another, author Edith Powell shines a light on the professional partnership that grew into a personal friendship built on mutual admiration, trust and purpose. The letters show early cooperation between farmers, private businesses, university researchers, and government policymakers to grow the peanut industry into a prosperous business for everyone.

“More Than Peanuts” shows a path from fledgling peanut industry to a region’s cash crop, valued at more than a billion dollars in 2020, thanks to this unique group. Barry writes to Carver, “The further we go the bigger it gets and the more interesting. I don’t know what we would have done without you.”