WILLIAMSBURG, Va., May 23, 2011 – Agricultural practices of the Powhatan Indian, English and west central African cultures of 17th- and 18th-century Virginia, from the types of tools used to the crops grown, will be explored in June at Jamestown Settlement and Yorktown Victory Center history museums during a “Seed to Stalk” theme month.
At Jamestown Settlement, a museum of 17th-century Virginia history and culture, visitors to the outdoor interpretive areas will learn how crops grown by the Powhatan Indians – corn, beans and squash – were adopted by European colonists, who brought plants such as radishes, cucumbers, lettuce and cabbage to the New World. Guided tours are offered daily at 11 a.m. and 1 and 3 p.m. Inside expansive museum galleries, visitors also can compare and contrast cultivation methods of the three cultures and learn about the Virginia colony’s tobacco economy.
In the museum’s re-created Powhatan Indian village, visitors can explore Powhatan methods of planting corn and beans together in mounds, allowing bean vines to climb the stalks of corn, and growing squash between the mounds. Visitors can assist historical interpreters in using digging sticks to turn the soil, weeding crops, and twisting plant fibers into cordage.
The riverfront discovery area, which explores Powhatan, European and African economic activities, will offer opportunities for firsthand experiences of weaving plant fibers into fishnets. Vegetable and herb gardens in raised beds outside the museum’s re-created colonial fort offers examples of plants, such as black radishes and purple carrots, brought from Europe. Visitors may be invited to help tend a small field of tobacco and learn about this valuable crop that ensured the economic success of Virginia but also was associated with the development of lifetime slavery for most Africans who arrived in Virginia.
Aboard a replica of one of the three ships that brought America’s first permanent English colonists to Virginia in 1607 – Susan Constant, Godspeed and Discovery – learn about the import of supplies, such as agricultural tools and seeds, to Virginia and the export of commodities – principally tobacco by 1614 – to England.
At the Yorktown Victory Center, a museum of the American Revolution, visitors to the re-created 1780s farm will learn how most Tidewater Virginia farmers grew tobacco and corn for cash, while producing corn for food and animal fodder, flax for cloth, and fruits and vegetables for their own use. Visitors can assist in watering and weeding the garden, and in the tobacco field, learn the processes of hilling, suckering, topping, watering, weeding and curing this important cash crop. Farm visitors also can try processing flax into fiber for linen cloth.
Peanuts, peas, okra and squash are grown in a small garden representing foods a slave might have cultivated for personal use or to sell at market. Visitors also will discover herbs like rosemary, mint and lemon balm and their many uses for food, medicine, fabric dye and insect repellant.
Jamestown Settlement and the Yorktown Victory Center are open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily, and until 6 p.m. from June 15 to August 15. Visitors can save 20 percent on admission with a combination ticket to both museums: $20.00 for adults and $10.00 for ages 6 through 12. Admission to Jamestown Settlement is $15.50 for adults and $7.25 for ages 6 through 12; the Yorktown Victory Center is $9.50 for adults and $5.25 for ages 6 through 12. Children under age 6 receive complimentary admission. Additional ticket and package options and online specials – including a Historical Gardens Package – are available with other Williamsburg area attractions.
The “Seed to Stalk” theme month is funded in part by grants from James City County and the York County Arts Commission.
Jamestown Settlement and the Yorktown Victory Center are separated by a 25-minute drive along the Colonial Parkway. Jamestown Settlement is located on State Route 31 just southwest of Williamsburg, adjacent to Historic Jamestowne. The Yorktown Victory Center is located on Route 1020 in Yorktown, near the Yorktown Battlefield and historic Yorktown. For more information, call (888) 593-4682 toll-free or (757) 253-4838 or visithif.ciniva.net.