Sunday, August 7, 2011

Lippitt Farm Walk and Talk Lessons

by: Jenna Peterson, School and Farm Programs Intern
Part of my internship this summer has been gathering information on different agricultural topics, and using it to write interpretive lessons to be delivered by our farm staff. The farmers do an amazing job of talking about a variety of farm subjects, and I was able to provide them with more primary source material to work with, including census data, journal articles, and seed catalogs all from the middle of the 19th Century.

One of the reasons to have a goose on the farm is to collect their down feathers for use in pillows. 
There are four different talks that can be given based on these lessons; corn, poultry, crops, and the interpretive field garden. The corn talk focuses on changes in technology and farming practices, and how that impacted corn growers in the 1840’s and today. While I don’t think I was assigned to research corn because I am originally from Iowa, it probably didn’t hurt! The poultry talk focuses on the different varieties of poultry farmers would have had, including chickens, ducks, geese, turkeys, and even pigeons. We have everything but the pigeons here at the museum, so it is a great chance to see how they would have been raised. For the crop talk, the focus is more on the unexpected crops farmers grew alongside those we think of today. This means looking at things like buckwheat, barley, hops, tobacco, and my personal favorite, mangel wurzels. Be sure to check out this post from Farmer Marianne about mangel wurzels if you are interested in learning more!

Mangel wurzels, a type of beet, were commonly used as animal feed.
The final talk is not actually given by our farmers, but is instead led by myself or my supervisor. We take visitors through the interpretive field garden planted in front of the Lippitt House, and discuss the history of these field crops, as well as the different parts of plants that we eat. Did you know potatoes aren’t actually the root of the plant? Come listen to our talk and I’ll tell you all about it!

Corn was planted in a checkerboard fashion with squash and beans, modeled after the Native American Three Sister's Gardens.
These talks will take place at 2:00pm every day through Labor Day. They leave from the steps of the Hop House, and are open to all visitors. If you happen to be near the museum, stop by and learn more about farming in 1845. 

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