1. Well, I doubt the wheelchair ramp is period either. But unless he was demonstrating the planting methods used by Vermont settlers, he was just trying to complete a job efficiently. Y’know, save the VT taxpayers some cash by getting the soil-turning done in ten minutes rather than a few hours.

  2. I don’t think Shelburne Museum pretends to be a reenactment sort of place like Old Sturbridge Village or Plimoth Plantation. Also, I can’t see complaining about something silly like this after they went to incredible lengths to drag the 220′ Steamboat Ticonderoga several miles up the hill from the lake and thus preserved, in the most unbelievably meticulous and beautifully presented way, the last steamboat of its kind:


    If you didn’t see that you really missed a world-class exhibit.

  3. I like the idea that he’s replacing part of the lawn. What will they grow in there? The plants on the little tray look like they might be corn? Maybe if it’s successful, next year they’ll enlarge it.

  4. Without knowing the philosophy behind the museum, I can’t judge whether the rototiller is appropriate or not.

    On the other hand, doesn’t current research back no till methods? Don’t rototillers destroy the soil structure? It might save time initially, but it ultimately does more harm than good.

  5. @tropaeolum : Sure, no-till is a current research fave. But unless this museum is trying to go full Williamsburg & make everything authentic (I’d say “not” judging by the aforementioned ramp, the relatively flawless lawn, paved (?) path, benches – and a guy in jeans & windbreaker), the tiller is appropriate. It puts the job of quickly planting a token garden in the “Done” column. Demonstrating real settler life (or the latest horticultural research) is not the goal here. Giving a cleaned-up, tourist version of history is.

  6. Wow, you guys are touchy. I don’t know if the Shelburne Museum is tacky-assed or not, but I do agree with Michelle on the garden. That little plot could be forked over by hand and that tiny tray of plantling could be in the ground in less time than it took for that guy to haul out the tiller and fire it up. Using a machine instead IS a guy thing.

  7. Somebody needs to tell him that he’s just going to compact that soil again if he keeps walking on it… Bet the settlers knew that.

  8. As a guy, I am incredibly outraged and offended that people are stereotyping my gender as dumb, machine-obsessed, ecologically irresponsible overgrown children with no sense of history.

    Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m trying to get my riding mower jacked up so I can trim the grass on my bonsai pot. Ahem.

  9. That’s good Jim. Thanks. ;c)
    I’m not too surprised by the tiller (someone spent the whole two hours as we weeded our plot today using theirs, over and over and over again!) but that fence isn’t going to keep the raccoons out once those corns start producing.

  10. The museum is one particular woman’s collection of Americana – it has nothing to do with re-enacting like Sturbridge Village. It’s a wonderful museum with quite an amazing collection of all kinds of things. I have no comment on the machine vs hand turning over of the earth. It’s pretty big grounds for gardeners to tend, I can see that someone thought it would save time.

  11. Can I just point out that handicapped accessibility, while not strictly authentic, is a good thing? Most of Colonial Williamsburg is also wheelchair accessible, and those buildings that aren’t often have alternate arrangements. Bash the tiller all you want, but leave the ramp alone.

  12. People need to lighten up. The Founding Fathers had no electricity either but I’m sure you don’t want to visit the Museum in the dark. To call it tacky speaks volumes about your own arrogance. Me? I applaud ANYONE who makes an effort to do something nice. Jeez!

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