Frontier Culture Museum – Farming in the Valley of Virginia

Over summer vacation (which seems like a million years ago after two weeks of school), we took the kids to the Frontier Culture Museum.  Located in Staunton, Virginia, it is definitely worth a visit.  A living museum, it tells the story of immigrants to Colonial America from England, Ireland, Germany, and West Africa. Many of these families worked on farms or as craftsman, and the museum has recreated farms from the  countries’ homelands, and illustrated how these different farming and cultural heritages intertwined in America. 

The farms are worked throughout the year, and so we got to learn all about colonial farming techniques, how they differed by country of origin, and how they blended in the Valley of Virginia.  It’s really neat – and we all had a great time. Dad learned about different gardening techniques; the twins learned about making homemade cheese, grinding oats for porridge, that pigs are smelly and that chickens come in many different shapes and sizes; and the eldest was excited to learn about the tradition of primogeniture in 17th century England (from which our ancestors were escaping!)….

For your viewing pleasure, food and farming-related images are below.  P.S.  The West African farm wasn’t open yet when we were there, so no pictures from that venue.

We began on a 17th century English farm,

where we learned how to make cheese,

using a cheese press,

After a quick visit to the shared garden (between the English and the Irish, I believe) – note the raised beds for those of you interested in square foot gardening,

we meandered over to the Irish farm,

where there were pigs,

and chickens,

eggs from his harem,

and The Picky Eater learned how to grind her own oats (maybe for granola bars?!?).

Next up, the German farm,

where there are funny-looking chickens,

a fig tree,

and a garden with the necessary ingredients for sauerkraut,

Then we wandered over to the American side of the living museum, where we witnessed how these different heritages influenced farming, gardening, and eating in their new homeland – the Valley of Virginia.

The garden,

A teenager who doesn’t quite understand the work entailed in using a scythe on a farm,

For those of you looking for a fun place to take the family – this one should be on your list!


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