WILLIAMSBURG, Va. – Agricultural practices of the Powhatan Indian, English and African cultures of 17th- and 18th-century Virginia, from implements used to types of crops grown, will be explored at Jamestown Settlement and Yorktown Victory Center history museums during a “Seed to Stalk” theme month in June.
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 12, 1 and 3 p.m. Visitors also can compare and contrast cultivation methods among the Jamestown cultures and learn about the impact of the colony’s tobacco industry inside expansive museum galleries, where tours begin daily at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.
In the re-created 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 and weed crops, and twist plant fibers into cordage.
The riverfront discovery area, which explores Powhatan, European and African economic activities, will provide opportunities for firsthand experiences of weaving plant fibers into fishing nets. A raised-bed vegetable garden located outside the re-created fort offers examples of plants 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.
Onboard a replica of one of the three ships that brought 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.
Farm interpreters will periodically demonstrate a spinning wheel or drop spindle to show how this fiber was woven into cloth, and also how vegetables and fruits were preserved by pickling. 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. Admission to both museums is $19.25 for adults and $9.25 for ages 6 through 12. Admission to Jamestown Settlement is $13.50 for adults and $6.25 for ages 6 through 12; the Yorktown Victory Center is $9.25 for adults and $5.00 for ages 6 through 12. “Seed to Stalk” is funded in part by 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. The Yorktown Victory Center is located on Route 1020 in Yorktown. For more information, call (888) 593-4682 toll-free, (757) 253-4838 or visit hif.ciniva.net.