The Heirloom Garden at Fort Lupton

comments (0) May 6th, 2014

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WesternGardener Jodi Torpey, contributor
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The potager garden at Fort Lupton is filled with heirloom vegetables and tended by volunteers.
The replica of the 1836 adobe fur trading post is located about 30 miles northeast of Denver. 
The heirloom vegetable garden is planted close to the historic Donelson Homestead House and the 1875 Independence School House.
Everything in the garden is hand-made, an homage to gardeners in the 1800s.
Heirloom melons, squashes, gourds and Indian corn are just a few of the old-fashioned vegetables planted n the Fort Lupton garden.
The potager garden at Fort Lupton is filled with heirloom vegetables and tended by volunteers.Click To Enlarge

The potager garden at Fort Lupton is filled with heirloom vegetables and tended by volunteers.

Photo: Jodi Torpey

Thanks to the dedicated efforts of volunteers from the South Platte Valley Historical Society in Colorado, visitors can take a peek back in time. Lt. Lancaster Lupton led the construction of the original fur trading post in 1836. The adobe fort was a bustling hub of activity for only two years before it was abandoned.

The effort to rebuild an original-size replica of the fort took volunteers nearly a quarter of a century. The site, located about 30 miles northeast of Denver, reopened to visitors in 2012.

In addition to the fort, there's a visitor's center, the 1875 Independence School House and the Donelson Homestead House. A portion of the nearby woods is used for living history events throughout the year.

Volunteers plant and maintain an heirloom potager garden near the homestead house. The large vegetable garden features many kinds of heirloom vegetables including old-fashioned squashes and Indian corn. Handmade row markers fashioned from rocks are intentionally misspelled, to give the garden an old-timey flavor.

Hollowed tree stumps, filled with colorful annual flowers, flank the garden entrance. The day I visited, Bill Taylor was just finishing up his gardening chores. He took me on a tour of the garden, pointing out the heirloom varieties that included cabbage, carrots, beets, gourds, beans, and assorted herbs. He was happy to share some of the harvest that included a kohlrabi, an heirloom squash, chard and an armload of fresh dill.

I hope you'll be able to tour the fort and visit the garden one day this summer or during one of the three Rendezvous events held each year. You'll be treated to a first-hand view of what life was like in Colorado during its early years.


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