Agricultural Fields & Gardens at
Jamestown Settlement, Yorktown Victory Center
Beauty meets function in fields and gardens at Jamestown Settlement and the Yorktown Victory Center, where agriculture is included in the story of the nation’s beginnings. Varieties of crops and herbs and vegetables grown in the 17th and 18th centuries are cultivated at both museums.
Corn, a food staple of the Powhatan Indians that English colonists adapted to their diet, is planted in early spring at the Powhatan village and fort, as well as at the 1780s farm. At Jamestown Settlement, beans and squash are later planted around the emerging corn stalks, a Powhatan practice also adopted by English colonists.
Tobacco, Virginia’s premier cash crop during the colonial period, is grown at both museums, with seedlings planted in mid-spring. Nicotiana rustica, a native variety, grows in the Powhatan village, and Nicotiana tabacum, a type brought to Virginia in the early 17th century, is cultivated outside the Jamestown Settlement fort and at the Yorktown Victory Center farm. Cotton and flax – crops used in making cloth – are grown at the Yorktown Victory Center. Grain crops like barley and wheat are planted in the cooler seasons at Jamestown Settlement.
Dozens of varieties of vegetables and herbs used in the 17th and 18th centuries for food, medicine, fabric dye and insect repellant are cultivated year-round in gardens and beds at both museums. Peas, carrots, lettuce, chard, onions and radishes are among vegetables planted in the spring. Some items have two growing seasons and others, like kale, cabbage and parsnips, thrive in cool weather. Feverfew, wormwood, savory, rosemary, yarrow, coriander, sage, thyme, dill, oregano, chamomile and lemon balm are among the herbs – mostly perennials – grown at both museums.
At the Yorktown Victory Center farm, peanuts, collards, cowpeas, okra, peppers and gourds are grown in a small garden representing foods a slave might have cultivated for personal use or to sell at market. Sunflowers, a food source native to the Americas, are grown here as well as at Jamestown Settlement’s Powhatan village.
This spring, a free “Gardens & Fields” brochure is included on request with admission to the museums. With advance reservations, visitors can opt for a garden-theme premium private tour – “All sortes of Herbes” at Jamestown Settlement and “The place where they delight to grow” at the Yorktown Victory Center.
It's the perfect season to explore the roots of American history at Jamestown Settlement and the Yorktown Victory Center. Take in the beauty and function of field crops and kitchen gardens of the colonial era with a three-day, two-night package. Lend a hand at turning soil for the season’s new crops and tending heirloom plants and herbs. Now’s the time to dig in — packages start at $199 for two adults and are only available online. Free parking. Seasonal shuttle available.
Administered by the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation, an agency of the Commonwealth of
Virginia that is accredited by the American Association of Museums.
©Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation, P.O. Box 1607, Williamsburg,
Virginia 23187-1607 (757) 253-4838 or toll-free (888)593-4682; fax (757)253-5299