Updated: Jul 20, 2019
Within the gardens at the Heritage Village one can find all manner of plants used in cooking and for medicine. These gardens mimic the kinds of gardens that would have once been outside every home in western New York and is a much smaller version of the garden that used to exist on this property when it was known as the Painted Post Tavern (the original name of the Benjamin Patterson Inn).
While one would see many recognizable vegetables such as corn, lettuce, or potatoes, there is one that many people in modern times have never heard of, even though it has been used for centuries: salsify. It originally came from the Mediterranean region and has been cultivated by Europeans since the Middle Ages. Later, it was brought to the New World along with other Old World plants such as wheat and lettuce. Its Latin name is Tragopogon porrifolius, and it has had many other names over the centuries such as purple goat’s beard, oyster vegetable and scorenza.
Salsify is a long root vegetable similar to a carrot or a parsnip and it comes in two varieties
known as white salsify and black salsify. It was the preferred vegetable by early settlers because it was extremely hardy and very versatile. It grows easily and requires very little care to thrive. It can be used in much the same way as a potato but can grow in more places. Salsify root can be boiled, mashed, diced, sauteed, put in stew, or eaten raw.
It also has some medicinal qualities. Historically, it has been used to treat snakebites but was also fed to children as many believed it made them less likely to fall ill. There could be some truth to that as salsify contains useful nutrients such as vitamin C, potassium, and calcium.
If you wish to see our gardens you are welcome to visit Heritage Village for a tour. Learn more about the gardens as well as our five historic buildings. Beginning on June 24, tours will be offered Monday–Saturday at 10 am, 12 pm, and 2 pm.