Fort de Chartres Heritage Jardin Potager Project
The Fort de Chartres Heritage Garden is located on the Fort de Chartres Illinois State Historic Site grounds outside the fort’s main walls. This garden has been planted in the style of a French habitant jardin potager, generally tended by the women of the Illinois Country. The accounts of the era remarked that the gardens contained a variety of the finest vegetables that were cultivated in raised beds, intermingled with herbs, flowers, and shrubs, located next to small orchards containing a variety of the choicest fruits. This all-volunteer demonstration garden is planted with heirloom seeds researched to reflect the varieties cultivated in the eighteenth-century Illinois Country. Period and handed-down regional recettes (recipes) were explored and their ingredients are the basis of the vegetable and fruit choices cultivated. The Fort de Chartres Heritage Garden mission is to bring to life our region’s history through its culinary traditions and encourages visitors to rediscover the flavor of the past by planting seeds and sampling the rich taste of heirloom produce. In the fifth year of this heritage garden project, work is needed to expand and replace some of its ten raised beds, along with funds to support its seed outreach segment. Free heirloom seed packets are given to garden visitors to encourage the use of heirloom seeds, keeping them relevant and present in modern gardens.
The Fort de Chartres Heritage Garden is free and accessible to all members of the general public visiting the site. Large fort events held throughout the year attract thousands of visitors, along with monthly smaller events held in the garden itself. A Master Gardener is present to interpret the garden during many of these events; discuss the jardin potager’s history, raised-bed gardening techniques, and heirloom-seed gardening; and answer general garden questions.
KGI is a nonprofit community of over 30,000 people who are growing some of our own food and helping others to do the same.
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