05/31/06 — Farmer's Day at Aycock Birthplace June 17

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Farmer's Day at Aycock Birthplace June 17

By Dennis Hill
Published in News on May 31, 2006 1:45 PM

They average 9-feet tall and have heads of about 12 inches in diameter. They are the Mammoth Russian Sunflowers that are among plants in the heirloom garden at Aycock Birthplace State Historic Site near Fremont. The garden features varieties of flowers and vegetables that were common in the mid to late 1800s, during the lifetime of Gov. Charles B. Aycock.

The plants will be stars of the free Farmer's Day program at the birthplace June 17, from 11:30 a.m. until 4 p.m.

"We try to recapture what the farm was like when Charles was a boy," explained Site Manager Leigh Strickland. "We fill our garden with the vegetable varieties available during that time and demonstrate farm chores of the time."

In addition to the bright yellow sunflowers, Peruviana Red and Peruviana Yellow zinnias should be in bloom.

While the flowers are eye-catching, they served as distractions to attract insects away from the prized vegetables that provided food for the family. Boston pickling cucumbers, Early Jersey Wakefield cabbage, Pattypan squash, Clemson Spineless okra, and Stowell's Evergreen sweet corn are among vegetables growing in the garden. The garden represents an international collection. Cabbage likely originated in the eastern Mediterranean, and was introduced to Europeans who brought it to America. Stowell's Evergreen corn traces back to American Indian stock, and okra originated in northeast Africa. These staples helped to feed the family of eleven in summer and wintertime.

The Farmer's Day program will offer music and demonstrations of 19th century farm life with costumed interpreters. Chores of spinning, lye-soap making, quilting, and blacksmithing will be shown. Wagon rides and other activities will be featured. Also, the group Waterbound Dulcimers will perform.