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Museum exhibit displays ways of the past

By JANE PRIMERANO
AFP Correspondent

MADISON (May 15, 2017) — An exhibit at the Museum of Early Trades and Crafts in Madison is an attempt to encourage sustainability, healthy eating, growing produce and the joy of digging in the dirt.
“The Garden State: Living Off the Land in Early New Jersey” is an exhibit of technology and tools used by farmers in the 18th and 19th centuries.
METC’s Curator of Collections Kristin Lapos wrote in her curator’s note for the exhibit: “It was fun to talk to today’s New Jersey farmers and to hear about how they take advantage of new agricultural technologies while trying to deliver the freshest products to everyone’s tables.”
The exhibit was inspired by people’s curiosity about the origins of their food. Lapos wrote: “The technology of the tools in this exhibit laid the groundwork for the industrialized agricultural world we have today. It will be interesting to see how agricultural tools continue to evolve as farmers adapt to feed a growing world.”
Running through Sept. 3, the exhibit highlights the museum’s collection of early agricultural tools.
In addition to the stationary exhibit, the METC will present three container garden workshops in June. Beth Riley, owner of the Potted Garden, will meet with gardeners of all skill levels for each workshop at a cost of $50 each, $45 for METC members. Students must also bring gardening gloves and a plant container measuring 18 to 20 inches high with an opening no larger than 18 to 20 inches.
On Thursday, June 1 at 10 a.m., the workshop will focus on pollinators, such as honey bees, butterflies, birds and bats, building a container garden that will attract pollinators. On Wednesday, June 14, the workshop will focus on growing fresh herbs. On Sunday, June 25 at 1 p.m., the workshop will focus on flowering annuals, perennials, blubs and woodland plants that thrive in the shade.
The museum is located in The Rose City named for the professional gardeners who worked on the estates of wealthy industrialists and built a greenhouse rose industry that supplied New York City, including the opening of the United Nations.
The staff was assisted by students from Kings Road School Learning Garden who took photos and created artwork for the exhibit. The learning garden teaches students to grow their own vegetables.
Among the exhibits are yokes for oxen, smokers for beehives and the logs of many early farmers. Tools for the kitchen garden, such as a brass-tipped dibber are also included. As is a disclaimer to the rumor that in 1820, a local scientist climbed the Salem County Courthouse steps and ate a tomato to prove they were not poisonous. Research of the museum staff showed not proof there was a widespread fear of eating tomatoes and that tomatoes were familiar to European settlers by the 1700s.
Orchards are represented by the apple parer, patented by Amos Mosher in New York in 1829. His parer used a pulley system to rotate the knife.
The farm logbooks disclose the 1766 inventory of Burlington County farmer Jacob Crammer which valued his eight beehives at two English pounds, more than the value of his hog. Crammer’s cattle herd was valued at 31 English pounds, more than twice the value of his furniture and household goods combined.
The museum is open Tuesday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and will be open Sundays through June from noon to 5 p.m. Admission is $15 per family.