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Upcoming Lecture on Thomas Jefferson's Revolutionary Garden

Published: 
1 year 30 weeks ago

Thomas Jefferson can be described as a man of many talents: inventor, philosopher, and musician, but Jefferson was also an accomplished horticulturist with a passion for the earth.  Peter Hatch, author, garden historian and Monticello’s director of gardens and grounds emeritus, will be on hand to discuss the lasting legacy of Jefferson and his gardens at Monticello on Wednesday, September 26 at 7:30pm in Call Auditorium in Kennedy Hall on Cornell’s campus. 

Peter Hatch will discuss Jefferson’s legacy in food, wine, and gardening and how it has affected the society that we live in today. Jefferson has provided us with a basis for vegetable cuisine, sustainable horticulture, and his gardens still serve to inspire the visitors to Monticello today. 

After a visit to Monticello in 2009, White House chef Sam Kass declared the gardens there, “…the most beautiful I had ever seen.”  So inspired by them, Kass reserved a special section of the new White House Garden for Jefferson’s favorite vegetables.  In the spring of 2010 Hatch was invited to the White House to help First Lady Michelle Obama, Kass, and school children to plant the redesigned White House kitchen garden.

Mr. Hatch told PBS in an interview, “…that Jefferson's interest in gardening really rose from this truly wide-eyed curiosity about the natural world. Even the site for Monticello was chosen not only for its obvious eminence and its glorious views of the central Virginia countryside, but also for its intimacy, for what Jefferson called, ‘the workhouse of nature’…I think that the landscape for Thomas Jefferson was very much a workhouse. And the gardens at Monticello became this laboratory. It was really through gardening that his experiments bore fruit, that his landscape assumed shape and form and color. And this whole drama of the natural world began to unfold under what was really his personal direction.”

Hatch’s lecture will examine a full sample of Jefferson’s favorite vegetables, from salsify to peas, by discussing both how they were grown and prepared at Monticello. He will also explore their history and place in the horticultural world of early nineteenth-century Virginia. Finally, Mr. Hatch will explore the precedent-setting vegetable garden restoration of the early 1980’s and the compelling Jefferson legacy in food and gardening today.

This third lecture in the Cornell Plantations 2012 Fall Lecture Series will take place on September 26 in Call Alumni Auditorium in Kennedy Hall at 7:30 PM.
Peter Hatch is the author of the new book, A Rich Spot of Earth: Thomas Jefferson’s Revolutionary Garden at Monticello.  To learn more about Mr. Hatch please visit www.monticello.org.