Barnes is communications manager for the Accokeek Foundation, which operates 200 acres of Piscataway Park in Prince George's County. The foundation hosts educational programs about farming, history and conservation, and its outdoor living history museum recreates a Colonial-era farm.
How do visitors react to farmland so close to the nation's capital?
We host about 4,000 schoolkids from the Maryland-D.C.-Virginia area. Many of our urban visitors are kind of surprised. A lot of them haven't seen cows -- a lot of the kids and even the adults are amazed at the animals they see. I hear a lot of, "Wow we didn't even know this was here," even though we're only 20 miles south of D.C.
What goes on at the living history museum?
It was established in 1958 to depict life for a typical tobacco-planting family in Prince George's County in the late 1700s. Large plantations were far from the norm in Southern Maryland -- it creates a contrast to Mount Vernon across the river. The site also has various field crops with historic varieties of Orinoco tobacco and Virginia gourdseed corn. The farm dwelling itself was actually moved here from its original location in Charles County.
What surprises visitors most about 1700s farm life?
Just to learn how hard farm life was and how much time was spent in the fields. A lot of work was done by very few people. A typical family might have had a husband and a wife and one or two children, who as soon as they could walk they would be out helping in the fields or in the kitchen and the garden. Farm life is hard work.
What kind of modern farm work does the foundation do?
We serve as a beginning farmer training facility. Basically the training is about learning the principles and practices of sustainable agriculture.
- Matt Connolly