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gardenOn Thursday, September 18, 2014, Food in the Garden focused on the foodways and waterways of the Great Lakes region.

The Great Lakes region was integral to the War of 1812, a front for several naval and land conflicts such as the assaults on Ft. Meigs and the Battle of Put-in-Bay. Once referred to as the Eden of the West, the Great Lakes region included hundreds of miles of untamed wilderness, rolling rivers, and dense forest encompassing modern day New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, and Michigan. The region was home to the Chippewa, Ottawa, and Iroquois tribes, who valued the waterways as a means of life. With the increasing demand for elbow room, European-Americans began to extend their reach westward into relatively unfamiliar territory with the hope of thriving off of abundant, fertile land. With them came exotic and—in some cases—invasive species never before seen in the region such as apples, peaches, swine, and other fare that would come to define the region. How did the introductions of new plant and animal species affect the cultural foodways of the people who lived there and continue to live in the region today?

200 years later, this region is the cultural center of the Midwest with over 32 million people living along the lakes. Although early settlements have come and gone, many heirloom seeds native to this region have stood the test of time and there is an ever-present effort to preserve them, not only for consumption but for their cultural significant as well.

Panelists: Jodi Branton, National Museum of American Indian; Rick Finch, interim director of the Glenn Miller Birth Place Museum and former site manager of Fort Meigs: Ohio’s War of 1812 Battleground ; and Tim Rose, geologist at the National Museum of Natural History and cider maker with Distillery Lane.

In the Marketplace: Whisked! Bakery’s Jenna Huntsberger showcases rhubarb and apple pies, Distillery Lane Ciderworks presents cider making demonstrations, Meatcrafters charcuterie discusses artisanal meat, and learn about what’s blooming in the Garden from Smithsonian Gardens.