Garden and Orchard
The Seeds of Heritage
The plants grown at Historic Stewart Farm are a unique heritage collection. They allow us to smell and taste what the Stewarts did. The gardens and orchard on the farm today are reproductions plants that would have been available from 1890 to 1910. Given there are no photographs or records of the gardens, volunteers used the following information to determine what varieties may have been grown here:
- Archeological evidence of a flower garden
- Certificates from local farm fairs stating Annie Stewart won a prize for Scarlet runner beans in 1898 and John Stewart won a prize for Belgian white carrots in 1902
- Newspapers, letters and records from other pioneers in the area
- A 1901 Eatons catalogue listing the common flowers and vegetables available by mail order
The Stewarts lived before the industrialization of agriculture. Plants grown then were open pollinated, and GMO free. All plants grown on the farm are organic heirloom varieties. Garden volunteers save seeds annually for replanting the following year. Seed saving is an important part of the heritage gardens which is why we ask that visitors do not take plants or produce from the gardens. We host a Seedy Saturday event each year where the public is welcome to purchase and/ or trade heirloom seeds.
What Do We Do with the Produce?
What is harvested from the gardens and orchard is used in farm public programs. For example, rhubarb is used in loaves and muffins served at teas, girl guides make apple sauce and school children peel apples. We use the produce to teach the public and enhance the heritage experience.
In full bloom from late May to September, the gardens at the farm are spectacular. The varieties depict a cottage garden style, including bulbs, perennials, annuals and natives. Annie was a busy farm wife and mother so while the gardens are era specific, the grandness may not reflect what the flower beds actually looked like during Annie’s time.
The orchard includes 30+ apple varieties, as well as two pears and one plum tree. Blossoming in spring, it is a picturesque stop on any farm tour. Farm volunteers nurture mason bee colonies on the side of the garage on site. The bees pollinate the trees to help ensure a good crop of fruit.
The gardens and orchard are largely maintained by dedicated volunteers who are passionate about heirloom plants. Learn more about becoming a garden volunteer at Historic Stewart Farm. We also offer programs about seed saving, pruning and more.