Yams were extremely important root vegatables for the slaves who relied on them for daily sustenance. However, for the colonists the yam was seen as a slave food and viewed distastefully due to its connections to blackness and African roots. Many colonial narratives and writings don't mention provision grounds, the diet of slaves, or anything to do with the crops eaten primarily by enslaved people. Instead, colonial narratives mention cash crops sych as sugar cane. As many slaves were not taught to read or write, we don't often get primary sources from their persepectives, however, we do get information about slaves through their connection to yams and provision grounds.
The above slideshow features some different examples of primary sources from the mid-to-late 19th century that contain mentions of Yams. The first source to appear, "The History of Mary Prince", details the first hand experience of Mary Prince, a slave in the Caribbean. Within the work, Prince mentions yams a few times, most notably saying that she sold "yams and other provisions to the captains of ships". In Mary Prince's situation, yams provided her with more than just sustiance, they provided her with a way of making money, something that would potentially have allowed her to buy her freedom from her owners. Mary Prince's experience wasn't universal, but it does allow readers to see the importance of yams as both a nurishing food and a economic opportunity. The other sources referenced, are written from the experience of Europeans traveling within the Caribbean doing studies on both the people and plants of the Caribbean.
The next source mentioned is "Domestic Manners and Social Condition of the White, Coloured, and Negro Population of the West Indies", a book by Mrs. Carmichael. Within this book Mrs. Carmichael writes extensively about the different groups of people living within the Caribbean during the 1830's. Carmichael references provision grounds and discusses the importance of these spaces for the slaves. Specifically, she mentions the plantain and yam as foods planted on provision grounds because of their ability to "keep well for more than a week after they are brought down from the provision grounds". This refernece is important because it gives readers information about those enslaved, even if it simply reinforces the importance of the plantain and the yam for the diets of the enslaved people in the Caribbean.
The last primary source within the timeline is "Camps In The Caribbees: The Adventures of a Naturalist in the Lesser Antilles" by Frederick A. Ober. This source was published in 1880 and offered readers the chance to read about Ober's experience as a naturalist, or biologist studying nature in the Caribbean. The important piece of information gleemed from Ober's experience in the Carribean is the dirtance that slaves had to travel to get to provision grounds. Ober explains that he"crossed the three streams hurrying from the mountain to the precipice, where they are compressed into two magnificent waterfalls, and climbed the hills beyond, over a path of interlaced roots" which is where he and the group he traveled with stumbled upon a provision ground in which the slaves were growing yams, plantains, and various other plants. Ober's brief mention of the provision ground allows readers to see the distance that slaves were required to travel to get their food, which reveals the importance of growing hearty and resilant foods. Slaves were only alotted certian times in which they could got to the provision grounds and collect food, by understanding the potential distance, location, and terrain that slaves had to cross to arrive at the provision grounds, readers can better understand the experience of these slaves.