From Seed to Table
The Miksch Garden and House displays the garden in its central role in the early Moravian household. Living history demonstrates early gardening practices in Salem with seasonal needs to guide daily activity.
Old World connections
Matthew Miksch was trained as a gardener in 18th-century Europe and brought many Old World traditions when he immigrated to America in 1754. Although a gardener by trade, Br. Miksch dabbled in a variety of work that included tobacco, fruit trees, seeds, candles and gingerbread, with the assistance of his wife Henrietta.
The Miksch House (1771) was the first privately owned home in Salem, and the Miksch Garden today is intensively cultivated with a variety of plants the family would have needed. The Miksch lot presents a typical layout for a residential lot in town. The house is set against the sidewalk at the street front of a relatively long narrow lot. Immediately around the house is the work yard, a swept, hard-packed dirt space. Separated from this by outbuildings and fencing is the garden extending to the back of the lot. Garden squares are filled with seasonal vegetables and pear trees are espaliered along fences with peach and cherry trees at lot edges. Border beds are planted with a variety of herbs and flowers, inspired by the 1761 list of Hortus Medicus, the Medical Garden in Bethabara, the first Moravian settlement in Wachovia. This early plant list and plan provide detailed information about medicinal and culinary herbs favored by the Moravians. The entire Miksch lot is also neatly fenced.
At the interactive Miksch Garden experience, costumed interpreters work in the garden and the house to demonstrate the “seed to table” concept. In the house, cooking and preserving food from the garden are ongoing. The cycle of the seasons provides the daily routine, whether time for planting, harvesting, preserving or planning.
Visitors, especially children, are invited to actively enjoy the heirloom garden— from the fragrance of herbs to the shapes and colors of heirloom vegetables, fruits and flowers.
The beauty, utility and practicality of this planned Moravian town are showcased in this family garden, where its “backyard” size is an inspiration for home gardeners today.