Seedy Quote of the Day: Nathaniel Hawthorne

by Tusha Yakovleva

Slide1The Old Manse is a stone house in Concord, Massachusetts, built by Ralph Waldo Emerson's grandfather. In 1842, when newlyweds Sophia and Nathaniel Hawthorne rented the house from the Emersons, a family friend - Henry David Thoreau - planted a vegetable garden for them there as a wedding present. Growing vegetables seemed to make a big impression on Nathaniel Hawthorne - he described the adoration and tragedy he felt for gardening in his journal as well as a short story - Mosses from an Old Manse. His remarks on the deceitfully simple process and result of gardening are full of awe, like this note from his journal: "They presented an endless diversity of urns and vases, shallow or deep, scalloped or plain, moulded in patterns which a sculptor would do well to copy, since Art has never invented any thing more graceful. A hundred squashes in the garden were worthy, in my eyes at least, of being rendered indestructible in marble."

Old Manse remained in the Emerson family until it became a museum. The heirloom (by default) vegetable garden lay fallow for 76 years until the non-profit Gaining Ground, took it on themselves to revive it. Since 1996, the garden has been producing heirloom vegetables (by choice) and donating the harvest to local food pantries. Old Manse gardeners save seeds from many family varieties grown by the Emersons, and acquire other heirlooms through seed exchange groups.


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