And you think your job is hard? Try colonial farming!

I’d like to share a fascinating video our site director, Doug, just emailed my way.  Here at Pennsbury Manor, we talk a lot about life on a late 17th-century farming estate.  We offer a wide variety of demonstrations and plant and harvest an authentic kitchen garden every year, but don’t have the staff or visitation to offer a full-scale agricultural recreation.  Which is why I find this video series so fascinating!!  Click the link to watch the first episode of this 12-episode series where historians work on a real Welsh 17th-century farm for a year: http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xqprv1_e1-tales-from-the-green-valley_lifestyle 

Techniques may have evolved slightly by 1683 when William Penn settled at Pennsbury Manor, but not much if at all.  The work recreated on this circa 1620 farm is a great way to imagine how early Pennsylvania colonists were surviving!

*No copyright infringement intended, used for purely educational purposes*

Written by Hannah Howard, Volunteer Coordinator

A Country Life: Take a Whiff of THAT! (Part 4)

Continuing our series The Country Life, we feature a lovely and lesser-known herb in the Kitchen Garden.  ‘Tis the season for apple cider, apple pie, apple butter… and Apple Mint!  

Apple mint (Mentha suaveolens): Like other mints, apple mint was prized for its sweet scent and taste. Besides being a nice addition to any number of baked recipes and salads, it was used to flavor tea, which had a pleasing taste and also helped digestion.


By Danielle Lehr, 2011 Summer Intern

A Country Life: Take a Whiff of THAT! (Part 3)

In the third post for our new series The Country Life, we continue our look into the Kitchen Garden’s herb collection (check out our posts on Lemon Balm and Rosemary).  Here is one of my favorites… 

Lavender (Lavandula): Visitors will often recognize this herb’s soft, purple flowers and many will welcome the chance to smell it. Colonists also enjoyed lavender’s scent and used it as a perfume for clothing. They also recognized the value of aromatherapy. Lavender’s aroma was used to ease headaches and “giddiness.” The plant’s flowers, leaves, and seeds were also consumed to ward off fainting and joint pain.


By Danielle Lehr, 2011 Summer Intern

A Country Life: Take a Whiff of THAT! (Part 2)

In the second post for our new series The Country Life, we continue our look into the Kitchen Garden’s herb collections (check out our post on Lemon Balm).  Here is one you’ll probably recognize… 

Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis): Recognizable by its needle-like leaves, rosemary had many uses in the 17th century. In the kitchen, cooks could use rosemary to flavor meats (like we do today). Medicinally, its savory aroma was used to ease a headache and to improve one’s memory. Additionally, vapors resulting from steaming the herb could be used to cure an earache and the leaves could be smoked to ease a cough.


By Danielle Lehr, 2011 Summer Intern

A Country Life: Take a Whiff of THAT!

William Penn wrote that “a country life and estate I like best for my children,” and we agree!  So our new featurette The Country Life will highlight the outside gardens and grounds of Pennsbury Manor and the surrounding area.  Enjoy!

Sights, Sounds, and Smells of the Kitchen Garden

Every spring and summer, visitors to Pennsbury stop by the Kitchen Garden to take in the sights and sounds of the 17th Century. They see a multitude of plants of all colors and textures. They hear the birds chirping and the bees buzzing. However, the garden also offers visitors the chance to experience smells of the 17th Century (and I’m not talking about the kind of smells they experience in the stable). The garden boasts a number of fragrant herbs that William Penn may have grown in his own garden. In Penn’s time, the fragrant herbs were not only pleasing, but also useful. Penn’s contemporaries often had several uses for one herb, including culinary and medicinal uses.

Now that school tour season is over, our fragrant herbs will have a change to recover from the rubbing, pulling, and picking. However, kids are not the only ones who are drawn to the sweet and savory smells of the Kitchen Garden. Children and adults alike enjoy the hands-on (and nose-on!) element the Kitchen Garden offers. Here at Pennsbury, we encourage all visitors to engage their senses as they stroll through the garden, including this one: 

Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis): A favorite of mine, lemon balm really does smell like lemon! Although it is related to other mints, lemon balm offers a citrus surprise that visitors often do not expect. In Penn’s time it was used to flavor cakes, teas, wine, and other beverages. In fact, our Summer Camp kids discovered lemon balm tea today and loved it!   Medicinally, lemon balm was also used to treat a number of ailments from stomachaches to epilepsy.   

So take a stroll into the lower kitchen garden and look for lemon balm, it’s near the path intersection by the cistern.  Over the next few weeks, we will be sharing more of our most popular and fragrant garden herbs for you to explore.  Stay tuned!


By Danielle Lehr, Summer Intern

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