Stepping onto the Historic Stewart Farm is like whizzing back to a simpler time, so much so that’s it’s like the Pioneers that called this historic site home dropped everything, hopped in their horse drawn buggy, and fled.
One of the most interesting parts of the farm is the garden, which has been maintained by staff and volunteers who grow only the plants that could have been grown by the Stewarts themselves! The garden houses living heirlooms that are open pollinated, organic, non-GMO, and if they could talk, the stories they could tell would be amazing! Seedy Saturday, an annual event happening each April, is a celebration of these seeds, and an opportunity to trade and purchase them, so they can continue to grow and spread their stories. Aside from their historic significance and agricultural science, there’s a lot more to these seeds than meets the eye.
“You can look at pictures and documents and tour the site. But food you can taste,” explains Curator Jerrilin Spence. “You can smell it. These seeds help us to experience pioneer life. This is what they ate to survive. It’s what they tasted with their family at the dinner table on regular nights and for family celebrations. It’s real life.”
Gardening today is a wonderful hobby, it’s a way to enjoy the great outdoors and feel the earth under your fingernails, but for the Stewarts, gardening was their sustenance. It was their way of securing their survival. They poured over their fields, tended their soil and preserved the fruits of their labour in the root cellar so they could make it though the Winter. There may have been a few blooms in the garden, but for the most part gardening wasn’t for pleasure, it was an absolute necessity. For all of the uncertainty that pioneer life brought, they knew that they would be able to eat everyday because of their trusty seeds.
History is about revisiting to our roots, and where do roots start? As seeds of course! To see the heritage gardens at the Historic Stewart Farm, drop in Tuesday to Saturday (and Sundays starting in May).
**Photo courtesy of the Historic Stewart Farm