- This event has passed.
Old Sturbridge Village, Harvest
October 16, 2021 - October 17, 2021
Help our farmers and gardeners finish harvesting a variety of heirloom produce and learn about how early 19th-century New Englanders preserved it for the winter. Chat with our gardeners about renewing soil fertility, 19th-century root cellars, and the origins of jack-o-lanterns.
Visit the ox-powered Cider Mill and learn about the importance of apples and cider in early New England. You can also meet and greet the farm animals, take a horse-drawn wagon ride, see our brand new Cabinetmaking Shop, chat with artisan craftspeople, and more!
Get tickets and see current COVID-19 related policies here.
Preserving the Harvest
Harvesting before the freezing temperatures set in is important work, but preserving the harvest is just as vital! Early 19th-century New England farm families stored a lot of the fall harvest is root cellars. How an item was stored in the cellar depended on the item. Cabbages, for example, would be hanged upside down from the ceiling. Early 19th-century varieties of cabbages (such as Mammoth Red Rock) were often larger than what you might see at a modern grocery store. The larger head would last longer when stored in the root cellar, as it has more moisture and layers that can protect the core from decay. As the cabbages hang upside down in the root cellar, the outer leaves dry around the head, and the moisture concentrates towards the head. This leaves the crisp cabbage protected inside. Cabbages stored like this can last for about 2-3 months, depending on their size and quality.
Certain root vegetables (such as carrots and turnips) were often stored in sand in the root cellar. If these items are exposed to the air, they will lose moisture and shrivel up. The sand seals them from the air and isolates each vegetable or fruit, preventing the spread of rot if one should spoil.
How do you like them apples?
Did you know that the most common fruit on 19th-century New England farms was the apple? Many farms had orchards containing 100-300 trees! Most of the apple harvest was either dried for cooking or turned into hard cider. While many farm families had plenty of apples, few owned a cider mill. Instead, they would bring their apples to a local Cider Mill, just like the one at Old Sturbridge Village, and pay a fee to use it.
Of course, the apples grown and consumed in the early 19th century are quite different from the ones you will find at the grocery store today. Varieties included Red Streak, Winesap, Harrison, Granniwinkle, Golden Pearmain, and Hagloe Crab. These varieties and more are growing in the Cider Mill Orchard at the Village.