Putting Down Roots: Gardening Insights from Wisconsin’s Early Settlers

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9780870204661: Putting Down Roots: Gardening Insights from Wisconsin’s Early Settlers
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Culture and history can be passed from one generation to the next through the food we eat, the vegetables and fruits we plant and harvest, and the fragrant flowers and herbs that enliven our gardens. The plants our ancestors grew tell stories about their way of life. Wisconsin’s nineteenth-century settlers arrived in the New World in search of new opportunities and the chance to create a new life. These European immigrants and Yankee settlers brought their traditional foodways with them—their family recipes and the seeds, roots, and slips of cherished plants—to serve as comfort food, in the truest sense.  This part of our collective history comes alive at Old World Wisconsin’s re-created nineteenth-century heirloom gardens. In Putting Down Roots, historical gardener Marcia C. Carmichael guides us through these gardens, sharing insights on why the owners of the original houses—be they Yankee settlers, German, Norwegian, Irish, Danish, Polish, or Finnish immigrants—planted and harvested what they did. She shares timeless lessons with today’s gardeners and cooks about planting trends and practices, garden tools used by early settlers, popular plant varieties, and favorite flavors of Wisconsin’s early settlers, including recipes for such classics as Irish soda bread, pierogi, and Norwegian rhubarb custard. Putting Down Roots celebrates the diversity and rich ethnic settlement of Wisconsin. It’s also a story of holding fast to one’s traditions and adapting to new ways that nourished one’s family so they could flourish in their new surroundings.

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About the Author:

Marcia C. Carmichael is the historical gardener at the 576-acre Old World Wisconsin, the largest of the Wisconsin Historical Society’s living history museums, where she exercises her passion for historical accuracy and enjoys the research as much as the design, creation, and nurturing of the museum’s heritage gardens. She supervises and works alongside a dedicated group of historical garden volunteers to create period-appropriate gardens and appreciates all aspects of heirloom plants, from propagation to harvest and from folklore to fact.

Review:

"In a time when people are increasingly concerned about organic gardening practices and the need for more variety in our plants for the health of the planet, Carmichael shows readers the value in drawing from the past for the good of the present. For avid gardeners and simple admirers of other people’s gardens alike, Putting Down Roots is an absorbing book of Wisconsin’s history and culture." (Jennifer Fandel, ForeWord Reviews)

“How do you read a garden? Read it the way Marcia Carmichael does and you’ll learn about so much more than plants. Her rich, readable guide to the historical gardens at Old World Wisconsin explores the multi-layered meanings of food in nineteenth-century life. This is real-life, everyday history—not dates and titles, but seeds, tools, recipes, and meals that illustrate immigrant hopes, values, and traditions. Putting Down Roots is an entrancing heirloom feast for today’s cooks, gardeners, and food history buffs.” (Terese Allen, coauthor of The Flavor of Wisconsin and Organic Valley Food Editor)

“For anyone interested in gardening or cooking with heirlooms, Putting Down Roots is a marvelous resource. If you can’t visit Old World Wisconsin in person, this book is the next best thing to being there. Recipes such as black salsify salad, potato candy, and more recapture the flavors of Wisconsin’s past. What a treat!” (Shelley Ryan, host of The Wisconsin Gardener on Wisconsin Public Television)



2011 Honorable Mention for the Ellis-Henderson Outdoor Writing Prize from the Council of Wisconsin Writers
2011 Winner in the Midwest Regional Interest: Text Category from Midwest Independent Publishers Association
2012 Winner of the Annual Book Award from the American Horticultural Society
 

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