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19, February 2014

Seed Saving and Surviving in the Gillette Family Garden

After the past few months of winter weather in St. Louis, we are all looking forward to spring. Although we had high expectations for our fall garden on the east side of the Museum, the frequency of frost and subzero temperatures prevented much from happening in our plot. So now, onward to spring we go. Read more »

17, February 2014

Francophilia, Food, and Freedom at Jefferson’s Monticello

On February 10, President Obama and French president Francois Hollande visited Monticello, the historic estate of Francophile Thomas Jefferson. For both presidents, this was their first visit to Jefferson's estate. Monticello is rich in history and, in many ways, quite telling of a relationship between France and the United States. The enslaved cooks at Monticello also left their imprint on this narrative. It was of Edith Fossett’s cooking that Daniel Webster spoke when he described the meals at Monticello as "in half Virginian, half French style, in good taste and abundance." Read more »

30, December 2013

Paradox in the Garden

To the furthest degree possible, they took charge of their lives. Among the tangible signs of black initiative and autonomy, the foremost spatial statements were the extensive vegetable gardens, sometimes as big as half an acre per person, in which [they] raised much of their own food.
—J. M. Vlach, 1993 Read more »

17, September 2013

Gillette Family Garden: Okuru, Gombo, or Just Plain Okra

As a Ph.D. student focusing on food history and representations of African Americans in public history, I jumped at the chance to work in the Gillette Family Garden at the Missouri History Museum. For the past month, I’ve been gardening, researching, and talking with visitors and staff about this project. My favorite plant in the garden is, without a doubt, okra. These plants—decked with handsome yellow flowers and plump green seed pods—have some serious roots. The name “okra” is a cognate to okuru in the Igbo language spoken in Nigeria. Read more »

3, July 2013

A Meeting of the Past and Present in the Gillette Family Garden

In our post on May 21, we discussed the Missouri History Museum's Gillette Family Garden project. In the next couple of months, we'll be including updates from the people involved in tending and watering the garden.

 

As I work in the Gillette Family Garden, I find the scene idyllic. The smell of the dirt and vivid green of the plants reminds me of my rural roots. And I find even the notoriously hot St. Louis sun doesn’t bother me as it beats down because I’m so content. Read more »

21, May 2013

A Garden Blooms from Monticello's Seeds

This spring, I was invited to present our Teaching About Slavery program at the National Council for History Education conference in Richmond, VA. It turned out to be the perfect opportunity to visit Monticello’s gardens in preparation for our Gillette Family Garden project here at the Museum. Read more »