The garden on Farm Day 2004 at the dedication
of the monument to the fallen soldiers & settlers.
The Colonial Kitchen Garden is a new feature at Fort Edwards, recently completed and added in time for Farm Day 2004. The garden is located to the rear of, and on the northeast corner of, the visitor center. The striking centerpiece of the garden is a monument to the soldiers and settlers in Hampshire County who gave their lives during the French and Indian War.
On the mulched walking paths of the garden are set two benches to provide quiet places to rest and contemplate the garden and the history and culture it represents. One of the two benches was dedicated to the memory of Lake Miller Henderson, a founding member of The Fort Edwards Foundation, now deceased.
The garden itself consists of four main beds and a surrounding border bed, all of this enclosed in a wooden protective fence with three entrance gates. All of the beds are raised above ground level, and the four main beds and the border each contain a different category of plants that would have been used in colonial homesteads. [photo 6/25/05]
The four main beds are arranged as follows: in the northwest raised bed are planted medicinal herbs, used in the preparation of unguents and elixers, teas and various compounds to treat a variety of common illnesses and medical needs; the southwest raised bed contains culinary herbs and spices, plants that were used in cooking and seasoning foods (some of the same plants show up in both beds, as they were used in more than one capacity); the northeast raised bed is home to a variety of herbs used for dyeing cloth and preserving foods, and some pungent flowers used to protect plants from pests; and the southeast raised bed is a vegetable garden, containing ordinary foods the colonial settlers lived on.[photo 6/25/05]
Around the outside of the garden runs an extended raised bed which contains a wide variety of plants, including wild flowers, more of some of the same herbs, gourds, pumpkins, and even two tobacco plants. In the future, this perimeter bed will be added to as additional "period" plants are obtained through donation and/or purchase.
This garden represents a significant endeavor over a three-year period by members of the Foundation. Julie Flanagan, Chair of the Garden Committee, worked to bring this vision to fruition, and she was ably supported by several other women and men. Sherrirobin Boland and Joyce Kenney contributed their plants and skills, and along with the chairman's contributions, managed to fill the beds. Roberta Munske and Dick Munske worked on the original bed frames, as did Bob Flanagan. Charles Boland hauled truckloads of mulch and did the spreading and other support work. When the buckets of top soil were being hauled by hand, it was once again the ladies who led the pack, aided by a couple of the men. Area Girl Scouts also came, brought herbs to contribute, and helped work in the garden. Julie Flanagan continues to maintain the garden, bringing water and tender care, warding off pests, pulling grass and weeds, chasing bunnies, and generally doing everything to ensure the garden flourishes.
Come visit the Fort Edwards site, admire our new monument, sit on a bench and enjoy the aromas of mixed herbs and flowers, touch and smell rosemary, lavender, lemon balm, borage, comfrey, sage, basil. chives and house leeks. This latter curiosity is commonly called "hen and chicks," and bears a poignant tale of its importance in early times. In the 9th Century, Charlemagne decreed that "every house roof shall contain plantings of house leeks," (many of the roofs were of sod; otherwise, you just planted the house leeks up there anyhow) which were to prevent lightning strikes and to ward off evil. Our garden is not proportional; frontier families would have had much greater ground given over to the raising of food crops. But herbs and spice plants and other non-traditional garden plants were very important to settlers, and they would have cultivated them extensively.
Come visit our garden, along with the Visitor Center. Learn about the culture of the farmers who lived on this land, and for whom the fort was raised as protection to allow them to continue a fruitful existence along the frontier. If you have plants you know, and can document, as having been a staple of life in colonial times, come and bring us a starter sample. Or call Julie Flanagan at 304-856-3866.
from Farm Day 2005 shows the garden set between the Memorial Brick Patio
at the bottom of the Visitor Center back stairs and the Shelter where we
have school programs (in good weather) and picnic lunches during
festivities. In the distance just to the left of the dirt pile is the
opening in the fence row where one can get a view of the archaeological
site and the nineteenth century house.