This is a photo of Bayou Bourbeau plantation, a Farm Security Administration cooperative, in Natchitoches, Louisiana (1940). Cooperative homesteads were one of the more ambitious projects of the FSA.
The agency’s head was Rexford Tugwell, a visionary economist and planner. He was also one of Roosevelt’s original “brain trusters” advising the president on economic and policy questions. He believed in the emerging cooperative movement as a way of promoting neighborliness and civic engagement.As one of its four main programs, the FSA built series of cooperative homesteads. In the east, these projects took city people on relief and resettled them into planned communities, like Greenbelt, Maryland, or into cooperative subsistence farms. This was an early back-to-the-land movement.
In the west, the homesteads became cooperative “farmsteads.” Nebraska’s FSA built about 10 farmsteads in places like Waterloo, Falls City, Loup City, Kearney, Fairbury, and Scottsbluff. Six to 10 families who had been on relief were resettled in each of those areas. They built their own houses, planted gardens and began cooperative businesses.
The Huffington Post has published a series of rare color photos that were compiled by the Farm Services Administration from 1939 to 1944.