Greenfield's four working farms bustle with the activities that are at the heart of America's storied agricultural history. Americans today are rediscovering the value of these local, traditional agricultural techniques.
Mattox Farmhouse
Amos Mattox worked many jobs during the Great Depression to take care of his family. He was a farmer, barber, shoemaker and preacher. His wife, Grace, was very caring. She worked with others to provide food for needy neighbors.

Like many poor African-American families in rural Georgia during the Great Depression, the Mattox family was able to scrape by largely because they raised their own food. During the summer, you’ll find costumed presenters shelling beans in the shade of the grape arbor or tending okra and greens in the family’s modest garden. Step inside and you’re likely find them preparing dishes made solely from home-grown ingredients, including hopping john and sweet potato biscuits.

Every day, Grace Mattox walked one mile each way to bring a hot lunch to her children at school. She also distributed canned and preserved food to less-fortunate neighbors.

Daggett Farm
In order to provide for his family, Samuel Daggett did a variety of things. He worked the family farm, built houses and made furniture. His wife, Anna, spun yarn, made clothing, fed the animals and taught their children how to read and write.

With little more than an open hearth and 18th Century recipe books, costumed presenters at the Daggett Farm prepare foods that are almost unknown to the modern North American palate; pickled radish seed pods, fried cucumbers and skirrit pie, made from a sweet-potato-like vegetable more common today in China than in the United States.

In the 1760s, few people used forks to convey food into their mouths. Their only use was to hold meat in place when it was sliced. In the Daggett Farmhouse, you’ll find people eating like their 18th century counterparts. The only dining implements you’ll see them using are spoons, the edges of wide knives and that most basic dining tool, their fingers.

Garden The only foods you’ll find growing in the Daggett Farmhouse kitchen are those that were common in late 18th Century New England.

At Firestone Farm and Daggett Farmhouse, presenters prepare and eat a mid-day meal every day. Stop by at lunchtime - usually around noon – and see how the homes’ original families night have dined.

Firestone Farm
Benjamin and Catherine Firestone raised their three children on this farm, including tire maker Harvey Firestone. In 1882, they renovated this “old-fashioned” house to make it feel more modern. Benjamin Firestone made most of his money from the wool of wrinkly Merino sheep.

Visit the Firestone Farmhouse and you’ll find an abundance of foods raised and preserved on site. There are pickled beans, sauerkraut and pickled cucumbers, all stored in heavy crocks made in the Liberty Craftworks pottery shop. You’ll also see potatoes and sweet potatoes buried in sawdust, raw eggs dipped in beeswax, canned tomatoes and spiced grapes and row after row of jams and jellies. Don’t miss the salt-cured ham, bacon and fatback hanging from the ceiling in cheesecloth bags.

The Firestone Farm apple orchard grows 15 varieties of heirloom apples. One of these varieties, Rambo, was popularized in the Midwest by John Chapman, better known as Johnny Appleseed.


Planting  Farming is a year-round activity, so nearly all of our early spring preparation and planting takes place before we open to the public on April 15. But if the weather permits, we plant our oats – Pringle’s Progress is the variety – soon after we open for the season, a time most farmers would regard as too late.

In May, we plow and plant the corn field. While mechanical planters for corn were in use by 1885, there is no evidence that the Firestones embraced this technology. So we plant the old-fashioned way.

First, the rows to be plowed are marked out using ropes. One rope is stretched out to make a base line at the end of the field. Then another rope is laid perpendicular to the first to mark out the row to be planted.

Every three feet, there is a knot in the rope, marking the spots where a hand planter is poked into the ground to deposit a seed. Once a row is finished, the rope that marks the row is moved three feet down the base line and the process is repeated. This is called check-row planting. By the time the field is completely planted, the lines of corn will be straight not just down the row, but also perpendicularly and diagonally.

Susquehanna Plantation
Henry and Elizabeth Carroll enjoyed a prosperous life on their Maryland tobacco and wheat plantation. But their enslaved workers did not enjoy the same good life, toiling from sunup to sundown. Growing tobacco involved especially miserable, back-breaking drudgery. Carroll's enslaved workers also tended a kitchen garden, providing fresh vegetables and herbs for the Carroll family dinner table.

Oysters and other shellfish were popular dishes on coastal plantations like Susquehanna Plantation, which was located in Maryland’s tidewater region. Empty shells were ground up and spread on walkways around the house to keep pests at bay.

Late Spring (Late May)

Planting  In this demonstration plot, we show a typical three-field rotation that you would find through an entire plantation.

Gourdseed Corn:  At Susquehanna, we grow a type of corn called Gourdseed. This old variety was the most common corn raised in the American South during the 18th and 19th centuries. Grown on the plantation as a food crop, the plantation owner and his family enjoyed tasty dishes like hominy, cornbread and biscuits made from this corn. Their enslaved workers received coarse cornmeal, or sometimes had to grind the corn themselves, as part of their rations. Gourdseed corn also fed the livestock on the plantation.

In terms of taste, it is neither bland and starchy like field corn nor as sugary as sweet corns. Looking down the length of the ear from the bigger end, it has a highly unusual appearance, a little like a starburst. Gourdseed corn was used mainly for animals, although many people regard its flavor and texture as the heart of classic southern cornbread.

Tobacco: We also raise Venezuelan Virginia Bright tobacco here. It was popular in many regions, but seems to thrive in fairly humid, wet conditions. Our crop is grown only for demonstration, since we don’t have the facilities to properly cure it after harvest. Starting and planting a tobacco crop is a very intensive business. The tiny seeds need to be started in rich soil in a small space. Today, we do this in a greenhouse. But traditionally, farmers would start the plants in a small warm plot. Then, when the plants were tall enough, they were transferred to fields, where they were planted six feet apart in mounds of dirt.