Cultivating the Steppe

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The main part of this article is presented in two sections. The first considers the practices for cultivating grain introduced by Mennonite farmers in Molotschna in the 1830s; the second analyzes the wider contexts in which the Mennonites developed the practices and the motivations behind them. The article is based on a range of primary sources including reports by Mennonite leaders to the Russian authorities, studies of Mennonite agriculture by visiting specialists, and articles by Mennonite and Russian authors published in contemporary Russian agricultural periodicals and preserved in archives in Russia and Ukraine. It also draws on the recent edition of the correspondence of pioneering Mennonite farmer and leader Johann Cornies. Reference is made to a selection of the extensive secondary literature on the Mennonite colonies and steppe farming. In keeping with recent Ukrainian scholarship, the Mennonites are considered as part of the wider population of southern Ukraine.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-34
Number of pages34
JournalJournal of Mennonite Studies
Publication statusPublished - Feb 22 2017


  • Mennonites
  • Agriculture
  • Steppe
  • Ukraine
  • History


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