Gardening sprouts at Wright County Historical Society Coffee Chat

The ground outside is slowly thawing, but green thoughts will be sprouting all around during the next Wright County Historical Society Coffee Chat.
If you like to grow vegetables or have stories, tips, and tricks to share or just want to develop a green thumb, attend the Tuesday, April 9, chat from 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. in the Wright County Heritage Center’s Activity Room. Fun and unique heirloom seeds will be shared with all participants and a Wright County Extension Office master gardener will give a brief presentation on kitchen gardens. Light refreshments will be served. The event is free and open to the public.
“An heirloom seed is seed from a plant that has been passed from one generation to another, carefully grown and saved because it is considered valuable,” said Sally Stevens, Wright County Historical Society business manager. “We have a great resource in the Seed Savers Exchange, a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of heirloom seeds.  Seed Savers has been very generous to WCHS in the past, donating hundreds of packets of heirloom seeds for sharing with our patrons through the Minnesota Sesquicentennial, the Smithsonian’s ‘Key Ingredients: Food in America’ project, and our current Nursery exhibit located in our foyer gallery.” Patrons who visit are invited to take a pack of seeds home, free of charge, Stevens said. A ‘kitchen garden’ is a term for a garden that produces food, and can include fruits and herbs in addition to vegetables, she said. Historically, a kitchen garden often was placed near the frontier home so to be convenient for the family to use and to protect it from wildlife. The WCHS has a small kitchen garden alongside its historic cabin, she said.
“Kitchen gardens are exploding in popularity,” Stevens said. “They can be financially beneficial and, since you are growing the food yourself, you control what does into the soil or on the plant, such as pesticides or growth hormones.”  Stevens said America is enjoying a “back to basics” revival that’s making lives simpler, food healthier and people self-sufficient. With the introduction of container and pot gardens, even those living in apartments or with limited land can grow gardens with tomatoes, lettuce, beans or peas. Heirloom seeds and kitchen gardens were a natural topic to select as a WCHS Coffee Chat, she added.
“For the second straight year, WCHS is proud to partner with the Wright County Ag Society with a history-related DVD project,” Stevens said. “This year’s topic is ‘Women On The Farm,’ so I chose Coffee Chats that would help me gather material for the DVD.” WCHS Coffee Chats began in 2011 in conjunction with the Smithsonian’s traveling exhibit, ‘Journey Stories’. “I wanted a way of encouraging citizens to share their immigration and veteran stories,” Stevens said. “I was so moved by the stories being told I decided to make Coffee Chats a permanent part of WCHS programming. It’s a win-win situation.” Patrons share their stories and images, while WCHS gathers invaluable Wright County specific information for future generations. All stories are recorded and any images immediately scanned, with the originals going home with the patron. Past Coffee Chat topics have included veteran, teacher, first jobs and related topics.
“Surprisingly enough, people did not take pictures of their kitchen gardens,” Stevens said. “Historically, pictures were taken of family and fields. That’s why we would like those participating in the April 9 event to bring us any and all historic pictures of Wright County gardens, so we can sharing with future generations.”
For information about Tuesday’s coffee chat or future events at the Wright County Historical Society, contact Stevens at 763-682-7323 or 1-800 362-3667, Ext. 7323 or visit the historical society’s website at www.wrighthistory.org. The Wright County Heritage Center is located at 2001 N. Highway 25 in Buffalo.

Contact Managing Editor Tim Hennagir at tim.hennagir@ecm-inc.com

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