• View from Battery DeGolyer

    Vicksburg

    National Military Park Mississippi

Heritage Garden

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Heritage Garden Summer 2012
NPS Photo
 

Establishment of a Heritage Garden has turned a currently under-utilized portion of the park into an outdoor classroom, available for school groups as well as adult education classes year-round. Funded through the National Park Service Parks as Classrooms® program, the Heritage Garden is based on the typical Victorian-era kitchen garden, flower beds, and traditional commodities grown on 19th-century southern farms. The opportunity to present the life of the average civilian during the Civil War - the hardships faced, their ingenuity, and how they cared for their family - encourages visitors to establish a tangible connection to this by-gone era, and more importantly, provides the opportunity for those who visit to learn by experience through hands-on interpretive and educational programs.

 
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Warren County Master Gardeners working in the Heritage Garden

NPS Photo

The garden was planned and developed through partnership with the Warren County Mississippi Master Gardeners, who, along with park staff, provide in-kind labor, interpretation, educational workshops, and garden materials. Master Gardener programs exist across the country, and are comprised of volunteer educators trained by Land Grant Agriculture Universities to assist in providing information to the public about home gardening. The Warren County Master Gardener program is supported through the Extension Service of Mississippi State University, and this partnership will allow the garden to remain viable for many years to come.

Local partners, volunteers, and school groups will become stewards of this new outdoor classroom, assisting with tending, planting and harvesting - all as a part of the learning experience. Once plants are established, Master Gardeners and other volunteers will assist with seed collection, clipping, soil augmentation and pest management to maintain the garden.

 
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Heirloom melon plant

NPS Photo

Several of the plants found in the garden are classified as 'heritage' or 'heirloom' varieties. Definitions vary, but generally, heirlooms are considered plant varieties with stable traits from one generation to the next. They are fairly similar to each other but are more diversified than the modern-day hybrid varieties found in today's grocery stores. They are open-pollinated and usually grown in fields where they self- and cross-pollinate. The advantage of heirloom plants is that they can continually be grown by carefully saving the seeds. A heritage plant can be one that has been successfully grown from these seeds which have been collected, dried, and replanted for many years. In 2014, approximately 50% of the plants grown in the summer vegetable plots of the garden are heirlooms.

 
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Master Gardeners Sonny Hale, Dana Klimas, and Anita Schilling working with Junior Rangers during summer camp.
NPS Photo
 
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Interpretive program for Junior Ranger Camp on foraging during the Civil War

NPS Photo

The Heritage Garden provides an opportunity for the audience to learn about key park themes as well as providing an outdoor classroom. As a part of Let's Move Outside initiative, students will not only get a chance to be active while outdoors, but they develop a greater relationship with their food sources through gardening. By creating an immersive experience the students and visitors gain a chance to physically interact with the resource, thus establishing a sense of ownership.

Currently, most of the educational and interpretive outreach at Vicksburg National Military Park is geared towards the battlefield and military experience. Establishing the Heritage Garden and a series of curriculum-based and interpretive programs has increased interest in currently underserved audiences including women, children and minorities. Programs developed for Junior Rangers, school groups, teacher and adult workshops, and gardening interests provides a deeper understanding of the civilian experience during the 19th-century, and in particular, the Vicksburg Campaign and Siege. Additionally, the garden provides an outdoor classroom for social studies and biological sciences, and will more effectively engage students in hands-on learning not only pertaining to the civilian folkways and hardships but also the concept of soil and water management, heirloom plantings and 'green' gardening methods through composting and traditional pest control management practiced in the Victorian era.

 

The success of the Heritage Garden has been recognized by the Mississippi State Master Gardeners Association by being awarded the Outstanding Project Award for a Large Group in 2012, and the Mississippi Historical Society Award of Merit in 2014.

 
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Mississippi Master Gardener Outstanding Project Award and Mississippi Historical Society Award of Merit
 
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Heritage Garden location

The garden is located on Pemberton Avenue approximately one mile from the main entrance along the park tour road. Situated in front of the Old Administration Building, the garden was created on an idle, grassed island surrounded by the structure's circular drive. The site is open to visitors during regular park hours (entrance fees apply), and can be entered through pedestrian gates (ADA-accessible) located at either end of the garden.

 
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Heritage Garden located in front of the Old Administration Building
NPS Photo
 
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Junior Ranger with fresh-picked tomato from the Heritage Garden

NPS Photo

Parks as Classrooms Program®

The Parks as Classrooms® program supports programs, activities, and products that allow students and the public to become involved in resource-based learning in such a way that they become better informed about scientific, historical, and cultural processes and research, and can apply this knowledge toward the formulation of their personal decision-making and stewardship ethic. Parks as Classrooms® supports programs for youth groups, clubs, home school groups and others. The emphasis is not on designing individual projects, but rather aiding the development of a lifelong stewardship and democratic ethic in the general public through participatory educational resource programs.

Parks as Classrooms® is a registered trademark designed to provide professional recognition for National Park Service education programs, and is administered by the NPS Washington Office, Division of Interpretation and Education.

 

Did You Know?

Graves in Vicksburg National Cemetery

Vicksburg National Cemetery is the largest internment of Civil War dead in the nation. It is the burial place for nearly 17,000 Union soldiers.