2017 Programs, Events & Exhibits

The programs listed below are presented by the Friends of the Morrill Homestead in partnership with the Vermont Division for Historic Preservation. Click on an item below for more information or scroll down. You can also register and pay securely online for each event.


Pruning and Grafting Fruit Trees: A Workshop with Mike Hebb

Saturday, April 1, 1:00-4:00pm
Morrill Education Center

Mike Hebb describes the basics of pruning apple trees for esthetics, health, longevity, better fruit, ease of harvesting and management, including correct pruning cuts and tools. Hebb’s hands-on grafting workshop shows how grafting can be used to control many of the characteristics of growing trees, including size, timing of maturity and fruiting, disease resistance, drought resistance and fruit varieties.  He’ll cover cultivars, asexual propagation, whip grafts, nurse grafts, bark grafts, cleft grafts, bridge grafts, top working, inarching, brace graft, graft compatibility, budding and reference material.  Participants will practice the mechanics of grafting in the workshop and discuss after-care. A materials list will be sent to each registrant.

$20.00 admission

Registration is now open for April 1 session (only). {The workshops on March 18 & March 25 are now full.}

Please preregister:

This program sponsored by _______________.


Earth Gardens & the Seeds of Life: Planting a Traditional Garden, with Michael Caduto

Sunday, April 30, 1:00pm
Morrill Education Center & Grounds

Come celebrate spring with a gardening program for the whole family. Through storytelling, music and hands-on demonstrations, Michael Caduto entertains while introducing indigenous family gardens and connections to the season of renewal. Slides and a demonstration of gardening designs and techniques show how to plan, plant and tend a historically accurate Native garden. This workshop shares how to preserve ancient plant varieties—to participate in gardening as part of the Circle of Life. We’ll also explore recipes and suggestions for garden crafts and games. Throughout, Michael draws from his book: Native American Gardening: Stories, Projects and Recipes for Families.

Plant by the waxing moon to grow strong seedlings. Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

$5 admission – $10 per family

This event sponsored by _________________.


Wake Up the Garden: Reconstructing Morrill’s Historic Landscape

Saturday, May 20, 9:00am-12:00noon
Morrill Homestead Gardens & Grounds

Work with the Homestead’s Gardener to cultivate and maintain the gardens surrounding the home of Senator Justin Morrill, author of the Land Grant College Acts that made higher education available to people from all walks of life. This is the first of several 2017 projects designed to nurture the colorful annual beds in the pleasure ground and expand the kitchen garden—Morrill’s laboratory for experimenting with plant hardiness that contains a variety of perennials, berry bushes, herbs and roses.



Come join us and become a part of Vermont’s history as we build out the landscape of this very influential American. You can earn all of your Master Gardener outreach hours with us.

(Ellen Ecker Ogden, author of The Complete Kitchen Garden, will offer a class on Kitchen Garden Design. See calendar listing for Sunday, August 6.)

All Welcome. No registration required, but doing so helps us plan.

Please preregister:


2017 Opening Weekend for Guided Tours, Exhibits, Gardens and Fairy Village at Justin Morrill State Historic Site

Saturday, May 27 through Monday, October 15
11:00am-5:00pm, Wednesday through Sunday (& holiday Mondays)

TOURS: Guided tours of Morrill’s Gothic Revival historic house and art start on the hour. Self-guided explorations of the formal gardens, interpretive exhibits and walking trails, at your leisure.

The Morrill Homestead’s Fairy Village also opens this weekend. Come celebrate the magic and mystery of nature by building a fairy house of your own.

Admission: Adults – $6.00; Children 14 years & under – free

  • Public Tour questions: 802-765-4484
  • To Schedule a Group Tour contact Vermont Division for Historic Preservation: 802-828-3051
  • Directions: www.morrillhomestead.org
  • Email: Tracy.Martin@vermont.gov
  • Website: http://historicsites.vermont.gov/directory/morrill

Justin Morrill State Historic site. Photo by Mary Louise Pierson.


Open House: Justin Smith Morrill State Historic Site (free!)

Presented by the Friends of the Morrill Homestead and Vermont Division for Historic Preservation

Sunday, June 11, 2:00pm-4:00pm
Morrill Historic Buildings, Gardens & Grounds

This event is held in partnership with the Vermont Division for Historic Preservation’s weekend-long “Vermont Days”—offering free visits for all Vermonters and “Vermonters at Heart” at State Historic sites, June 10 & 11, 2017: historicsites.vermont.gov

2:00-3:00pm: Vermont’s Musical Ladies: Singer and researcher Linda Radtke, joined by pianist Arthur Zorn, explores the contributions of Vermont women to the traditions of parlor songs, women’s club music contests and social reform efforts. Oceana Judah, Diane Martin, Edwina Flint and Helen Hartness Flanders represent the richness and invention of the female composers included in the sheet music collection of the Vermont Historical Society. Abolition, child welfare, temperance, the patriotism of war heroes and the concerns of those left at home during times of war captured the hearts of these women who sometimes disguised their gender for publication. Though they were often published in the local print shop, they have sometimes been ignored by musicologists since. Also featuring selections from the 19th-century music book of Justin Morrill’s sister-in-law, Louise Swan.

Linda Radtke


3:15-4:00pm: Music for the Generations, with Singer/Songwriter Jon Gailmor: Humor and audience involvement are front and center during this performance for children and families, led by Jon Gailmor—one of Vermont’s most dynamic singer/songwriters. This rollicking show features songs about growing, gardens and generations. From soil to seed and from childhood to harvest—Jon loves to share “Songs to make people feel alive!” jongailmor.com

Jon Gailmor


Event is free, but registering helps us plan:


Traditional Farmstead Skills—A Workshop with Andersen Thorp

Saturday, June 17, 10:00am-3:00pm

Morrill Gardens & Grounds

Andersen Thorp—national award-winning art teacher and co-founder of the Friends of the Morrill Homestead—leads this hands-on exploration into some of the crafts, skills and activities of yesteryear. From churning butter and making soap to the basics of basket-making, participants will get a taste of the handiwork that was the center of life on a small 19th-century family farm.

Hand-crank butter churn

$65.00 (cost for materials included)

Space is limited. Please register by Sunday, June 11.

Please preregister:

This program sponsored by _______________.


Drawing and Watercolor Camp (ages 6 to 12)

Monday-Friday, June 19-23, 9:00am-12:00noon
Morrill Education Center, Gardens & Grounds

Explore the nature and architecture of the Morrill Homestead through drawing, nature journals and watercolor painting. Make your own handmade books for sketching and finished work. Drawing will include direct observation of nature, drawing games and techniques to improve your skills.

Explore the natural surroundings of the gardens, trail and stream while nature journaling. Learn new painting methods and practice watercolors at the buildings, forests and pond. Students will also have time to complete finished drawings and paintings. Instruction will be tailored to children’s experience and interests. Taught by Jennifer Brown.

Photo by Anmari Kicza

$125 per child

Space is limited. Please register by Sunday, June 11.

This program supported by ______________.


Gallery in the Garden

Silent Auction, Art Exhibit Opening Reception and Guided tour “Art of the Morrill Homestead

Friday, June, 30
Morrill Historic Buildings, Education Center, Gardens & Grounds

Art lovers from throughout the Upper Valley eagerly anticipate the Morrill Homestead’s annual Gallery in the Garden art show and silent auction. The 2017 edition features works created in an array of styles by many fine artists from the Strafford community, the Upper Valley and beyond. Artists present their unique perspectives on the world around us and the relationship between people and the land, in ways that are moving, playful, profound and inspiring.

4:00-5:00pm: Guided interpretive tours of the Art of the Morrill Homestead, led by tour guides from the Vermont Division for Historic Preservation; sharing the history and mystery of the artworks and studies by “America’s Michelangelo,” Constantino Brumidi, and other noted artists whose works were collected by Senator Justin Morrill.

On display at the Justin Morrill State Historic Site are two of Brumidi’s sketches on paper and three panels based on designs in the Brumidi Corridors in the Capitol, including the one pictured above that features a portrait of William Prescott.

On display at the Justin Morrill State Historic Site are two of Constanino Brumidi’s sketches on paper and three panels based on designs in the Brumidi Corridors in the Capitol, including the one pictured above that features a portrait of 19th-century historian and author, William Prescott.

5:00-6:00pm: Reception for the art show opening, “The Land and People,” begins in the Carriage Barn at 5:00pm. Wine and hors d’oeuvres will be accompanied by the ethereal music of Sam Moffatt on hammered dulcimer.

Samantha Moffatt

Samantha Moffatt

6:00pm: Silent auction of “Minis for Morrill”—magnificent mini paintings by artists of regional and national reputation. The 2017 silent auction of miniature 4″×4″ paintings could include works by these artists, and more: Charlotte Atkinson, Bob Bauer, Gerry Bergstein, Todd Binzen, Ann Boyajian, Gail Boyajian, Jennifer Brown, Anna Chute, Lucas Chute, Kelly Coffin, Randy Coffin, Dierdre Dennis, Anne Dycus, Kate Emlen, Lou Hance, Stefanie Johnston, Laura Karetzky, Pace Kendall, Ed Koren, George Lawrence (featured artist), Anne Leeds, Jo Levasseur, Gregory Maguire, Andy Newman, David Newman, Susan Norton, Anita Onofrio, Jacqueline C. Overstreet, Mary Louise Pierson, Beth Preston, Stephanie Reininger, Celia Reisman, Jessie Rosenman (Newman), Sherry Saint-Germaine, Kate Siepman, Gus Speth, Lianne Thomashow, Jessica Tidman, Rosemary Wells, Susan Whelihan, Sandra Williams-Crossley and Sperry Wilson.

Event is free, but registering helps us plan:

VIEW mini paintings that were offered during the silent auction in 2016.

This event sponsored by ___________________.


Art Show “The Land and People”

Friday, June 30 through Sunday, July 16 — Wednesday through Sunday each week, 11:00am-5:00pm
Morrill Carriage Barn

In styles ranging from classical to abstract, and from realism to impressionism, artists present the world around us in a fresh light, exploring the nature of our landscapes and the relationship between the land and humankind. The exhibiting artists for 2017 could include: Gerry Bergstein, Gail Boyajian, Jennifer Brown, Dierdre Dennis, Laura Karetzky, George Lawrence (featured artist), Anne Leeds, Jo Levasseur, Andy Newman, Jacqueline C. Overstreet, Mary Louise Pierson and Stephanie Reininger.

“The Tucker Barn” was the 2015 Morrill Mini painted by George Lawrence—our featured artist in the 2017 exhibit The Land and People.

Exhibit included with $6.00 general admission to historic house & exhibits

This exhibit underwritten by ______________.


Preschool Nature Camp (Ages 3-5)

Monday-Friday, July 10-14, 8:30-11:30am
Morrill Education Center, Gardens & Grounds

Children learn about the natural world by experiencing the wonder and beauty of the outdoors at the Morrill Homestead. A particular theme is woven together each day through hands-on activities involving literature, songs, games, outdoor explorations, arts, crafts and more. This weeklong adventure presents daily opportunities for fostering social and pre-elementary skills though play and learning times.

Photo by Lauren Griffin

Photo by Lauren Griffin

Program leader Kate Hill has been a teacher at the Newton School in South Strafford, Vermont for the past 10 years and is a mother to two high-energy boys. She has a Masters in Education and her diverse background in education includes creating activities for young children in the natural world at the Montshire Museum Preschool Summer Camp and the Ohana Family Camp. Before joining the Newton School staff, Kate worked for several years in preschool education in the Upper Valley.

Baby birds are often encountered by children during the Preschool Nature Camp. (Photo of fledgling house wren ©2016 by Donna Hollinger.)

$125 per child

Space is limited. Please register by Sunday, July 2.

Please preregister:

This program supported by ______________.


Fairy House Festival—with Tracy Kane, author of the Fairy House books

Saturday, July 22, 1:00-3:00pm
Morrill Education Center, Carriage Barn & Fairy Village

The magic and fun of Fairy Houses come alive with this visit from Tracy Kane—author of the Fairy House books that started it all. Tracy will read from her books and show photos of whimsical fairy habitats built from all natural materials to attract fairies and their friends. Children will take a special Fairy Tour of the flower garden, visit the Fairy Village and create a fairy house of their own. Michael Caduto will share tales of Little People from Around the World. Children are invited to create and wear their own costumes, inspired by fairies, fairy houses and the beauty of nature. Everyone will have a chance to meet Tracy Kane and purchase signed copies of her books.

Photo by David Briggs

Photo by David Briggs

About Tracy Kane: Author, Illustrator and Educator

Tracy Kane majored in illustration at Philadelphia College of Art. She also studied in London, England where she met her husband, Barry. After working as a commercial artist for NH Public Television, she now spends most of her time introducing communities to the joy of fairy house building. Says Tracy: “My goal in producing the Fairy House’s Series is to connect children with the wonders of nature. I use the fairies as a vehicle to remind them that nature’s magic is all around us.”

Fairy House—Lucinda Rooney

Fairy House—Lucinda Rooney

$5.00 per child (under 14), $10.00 for adults (14 & up)

This event is very popular and space is limited. Please preregister by Sunday, July 16:

This event sponsored by _______________


The Fruits of Time: Heirloom Apples, Then and Now (Exhibit)

Wednesday, July 26 through Monday, October 15, 11:00am-5:00pm (Open Wednesday through Sunday each week)      

Carriage Barn Exhibit Space

Apples first arrived in the Americas in the 1600s and were grown to make everything from cider, sauce and pies to apple butter. By the early 1800s, farmers in the United States were producing some 15,000 different kinds of apples, bearing names like Maiden’s Blush, Blue Pearmain, Bellefleur, Duchess of Oldenburg and Seek No Further. Over time, orchards grew fewer and fewer varieties; eventually eighty percent of our “heirloom” apples stood on the brink of extinction. But all is not lost, heirloom apples are experiencing a renaissance as more and more orchards plant these traditional varieties to preserve their genetic heritage—the root of the fruit’s rich and varied colors, textures and flavors. Using photographs, illustrations, historical interpretation and compelling narratives, this exhibit explores the story of heirloom apples and shows how you can bring your old trees back into production.

The Morrill orchard, circa 1880. Seven of the original apple trees are still growing in the orchard, today.

This exhibit and the ongoing restoration of Justin Morrill’s orchard are collaborative efforts between the Friends of the Morrill Homestead and the Vermont Division for Historic Preservation.

These heirloom “Spitzenburg” apples were the first fruits of the ongoing restoration of the Morrill Orchard.

For more information:


This exhibit underwritten by ________________.


The Art of Growing Food, with author Ellen Ecker Ogden

Sunday, August 6, 2:00pm
Morrill Education Center & Gardens

A kitchen garden is much more than a place to grow food; it is a place to observe and relax, invite beauty and nature, and it all starts with good design. Ellen will show you how to transform a vegetable garden into a unique European styled kitchen garden; an ornamental edible garden with an eye towards beauty, easy care and pleasure. Learn the tools to create an edible garden that is both productive and beautiful, turning “ordinary” into “extraordinary.”

Imagine walking barefoot into your garden, filling a basket with tiny artichokes, fresh snap peas, purple basil tips, tiny rainbow chard or clumps of spoon shaped maché. A true kitchen garden opens your senses both in the garden and in the kitchen. In this 55-minute presentation, you will learn six steps to successful kitchen garden design, based on classic design techniques that anyone can follow.

Ellen Ecker Ogden

Take home design ideas to transform your current garden or start something new, with suggestions for what to plant for the most flavorful and fragrant garden heirloom seeds. This lecture is ideal for new and experienced gardeners, and anyone seeking fresh ideas for how to design and plant a kitchen garden rich in details and how to add personality to give your kitchen garden unique style and whimsy.

Author and Garden Speaker, ELLEN ECKER OGDEN is an award-winning food and garden writer and kitchen garden designer who is known for her informative and fun loving garden talks. Her kitchen garden designs combine artistic elements with classic garden design techniques that elevate a backyard vegetable garden into a European inspired kitchen garden. Her  book, The Complete Kitchen Garden, features kitchen garden theme designs with seasonal recipes. ellenogden.com


Space is limited. Please register by Monday, June 31.


This event is sponsored by _________________


Watercolor Painting Workshop with Jennifer Brown (Adult)

Saturday, August 12, 1:00-3:00pm
Morrill Education Center, Gardens & Grounds

Explore the medium of watercolor while surrounded by a tapestry of color in the gardens and grounds of the Morrill Homestead. In this introductory class, students learn basic watercolor techniques through practice studies that they can employ to make a painting. Each artist will translate the unique surroundings of the Homestead into her/his own language of brushstrokes, washes and color. Bring your painting materials (materials list provided upon registration) and creative energies!

Photo by Anmari Kicza.

Photo by Anmari Kicza.

Instructor Jennifer Brown is a longstanding illustrator for Stave Puzzles, teaches art at The Sharon Academy and is a member of the Vermont Watercolor Society. She studied watercolor painting at the Rhode Island School of Design, Art New England—Massachusetts College of Art and Design, Bennington College and AVA. She exhibits with Long River Studios and Strafford Arts.


Please register by Sunday, August 6.


Continuing Watercolor Painting Workshop with Jennifer Brown (Adult)

Thursdays, September 7, 14, 21, 28, 5:30-7:30pm
Morrill Education Center, Gardens & Grounds

Hone your watercolor technique while painting the landscape of the Morrill Homestead and its environs. Participants become immersed in the art of watercolor while surrounded by the palette of autumn. Bring your painting materials and creative energies! (Materials list provided upon registration.) Instructor Jennifer Brown is a longstanding illustrator for Stave Puzzles, teaches art at The Sharon Academy and is a member of the Vermont Watercolor Society. She studied watercolor painting at the Rhode Island School of Design, Art New England—Massachusetts College of Art and Design, Bennington College and AVA. She exhibits with Long River Studios and Strafford Arts.


Please register by Sunday, September 3.



Fiddleheads, Lamb’s Quarters, Nettles and Nuts: Wild Edible, Medicinal, and Poisonous Plants

Sunday, September 10, 1:00-2:30pm
Morrill Education Center, Gardens & Grounds

Which of our delicious wild fruits has poisonous seeds? What native plants exude sap that can cure warts, or treat poison ivy? Which has more vitamin C—a glass of orange juice or a glass of pine needle tea? What is our botanical source of wild aspirin? On this walk we’ll share Colonial and Native American folklore and information to learn about the myths and realities concerning the uses of wild plants for food, medicine and materials, as well as identifying poisonous plants to avoid. We’ll taste some of these delectables in the field and sample a mystery wild treat.

Joe-Pye Weed or “Queen of the Meadow” is a native medicinal plant of many uses. (Photo ©2016 Michael J. Caduto)

Michael Caduto—well known as co-author of the Keepers of the Earth series—has written and taught extensively on herbalism and has studied the uses of plants among the indigenous peoples of the Northeast. His other books include Native American Gardening and Everyday Herbs in Spiritual Life.

A 1.5-hour walk, including stories and sampling plants in the field as well as a prepared wild edible.

$10 adults – $5.00 under 14

Please register by Sunday, September 3.


19th Century Apple & Cheese Harvest Festival & Apple Pie Baking Competition

Sunday, September 24, 11:00am-3:00pm
Morrill Education Center, Gardens & Grounds

AWARD WINNER! “Top Ten 2017 Fall Events”—Vermont Chamber of Commerce

Come celebrate Johnny Appleseed’s birthday! Bring the whole family to a harvest festival at the Justin Morrill State Historic Site. Features face-painting, live music by Out on a Limb and an apple pie contest with prizes that include gift certificates to popular local businesses. Meet live farm animals—the kind that Justin Morrill would have had on his small 19th-century farm. Make your own cider in an antique press, taste heirloom apples, fine artisan Vermont Cheeses, Vermont ice cream and homemade apple pie. Play period games, hike the lookout trail and play Valley Quest. Also includes gardens, exhibits, an icehouse, ice pond and a historic home decorated with gingerbread designs.

Everyone loves heirloom apples!

The musical group Out on a Limb plays a selection of music from Hank to Hendrix—from old timey banjo and fiddle tunes thru jazz standards. Featuring Rick Barrows (mandolin and vocals), Bob Totz (Guitar, Harmonica trumpet and Vocals), Melissa Desiervo (Banjo, clarinet and vocals), Steve Glazer (guitar and vocals), Erin Smith (fiddle, bass and vocals) and Paul Kifner (Bass and vocals).


Rain or shine.

$10 adults – $5 under 15 (includes lunch).

Preregistration is not required.

For more information:


Apple Pie Contest at the Apple Fest!

Any member of the general public may enter an apple pie. PRIZES will include gift certificates to popular local businesses. Pastry crust pies accepted. (No crumb crust pies, please). Pies must be room temperature and brought to the Morrill Homestead for judging by 10:30am on Sunday, September 24, 2017: 214 Justin Morrill Memorial Highway, Strafford, VT 05072.

In order to assure objective judging: Please write the entrant’s name clearly on the outside of the pie container, but not on the dish or plate itself. For further information, please email Donna Hollinger:

Email: pdeotnenra@comcast.net

Phone: (802) 765-4242

Apple Pie contest. (Photo ©2016 by Donna Hollinger.)


This event underwritten by ____________


Putting the Garden to Bed

Saturday, October 7, 9:00am-12:00noon
Morrill Homestead Gardens & Grounds

Assist the head gardener with the annual autumn “putting the garden to bed” day at the Justin Morrill State Historic Site in Strafford, Vermont. Tasks include cutting back perennials and pulling annuals, raking, mulching, weeding, bringing old plants to compost area—generally cleaning up the kitchen garden and ornamental garden beds and preparing them for the winter and the next growing season. (Master Gardeners can earn outreach hours with us.) All Welcome.

kitchen garden photo 1mb

Special requirements:
 Please dress for the weather. Wear sturdy footwear, gloves and sun/rain hat. Bring pruning shears, weeding tool and a kneeling mat.

What is provided:
 Basic garden tools will be on hand. Generous snacks and beverages will be available throughout the morning.

Rain or shine

All Welcome. No registration required, but doing so helps us plan. Please preregister: