Citizen Science

The Garden State

Did you know that New Jersey ranks in the top 10 nationally for its production of blueberries, cranberries, peaches, tomatoes, bell peppers, eggplant, cucumbers, apples, spinach, squash, and asparagus? In 1876, a New Jersey resident coined the term the Garden State and the nickname stuck. Even though times have changed and there is less land designated as farm land, we still rely on the work of devoted, hard-working farmers for Jersey Fresh produce.

As a 19th-century farmer, George Macculloch (1775-1858) was among the first to recognize the importance of a famer’s role in feeding the community. He also recognized the challenges the weather presented to growing crops.

On June 2, 1843, George Macculloch wrote in his garden journal that the “corn, beans, tomatoes much injured by Frost” and that his potatoes, bush beans, broccoli and cauliflower “were cut off by drought.” The area in his garden journal which is usually filled with his calculations of profit and loss is left blank.

New Jersey is the perfect state to find the fresh produce we love. Contact a local farmers market, like Wightman’s Farms and Alstede Farms, about curbside pickup of your favorite Jersey Fresh produce.

Resources

Would you be a good farmer? Take the Beginning Farmers quiz to find out.

Can NJ Grow More with Less? Do the math to find out how land use has changed in New Jersey! (PDF Document)

If you would like to volunteer and be a part of Macculloch Hall Historical Museum’s Garden Journal Transcription Project, contact Cynthia Winslow at cwinslow@maccullochhall.org.

Weather Watchers

1789 thermometer belonging to Thomas Jefferson from William Jones. Photo by the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, Inc. on Monticello website.

“Never plant out till end of April.” George Macculloch wrote this remark several times in 1838 in his garden journal. He continued, “It never answers to plant pease till March,” so wrote the farmer with 26 acres of land who always demonstrated a spirit of experimentation. Armed with a thermometer, an almanac, and notes from nine previous years of farming in Morristown, NJ George Macculloch recorded another year of handwritten garden notes.

“The Citizen and Farmers Almanac” from 1819 compiled by David Young, Philom and printed in Morristown by Jacob Mann. From the collection of Macculloch Hall Historical Museum.

In 1838, he recorded thermometer readings for April 14th through 16th at 25° F. There was a snowstorm on April 13th. By April 30th, onions, leeks, parsnips, celery, potatoes, corn, carrots, beets, early crops of broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and two early crops of peas were planted. One crop of early peas had to be replanted on April 17th. Yet another snowstorm came on April 24th, with a thermometer reading of 26° F, which probably frustrated George Macculloch but was not unexpected.

Collecting and sharing weather information was one of the first major “citizen scientist” projects in our nation’s history. Even before there was a National Weather Service, telegraph companies would allow weather reports to be transmitted for free, so towns and cities would know what weather was on the way. By the 1860s, weather reports were printed in newspapers. By the 1920s, reports were available on the radio and by the 1950s, evening weather reports were on television.

Resources:

Keep a weather log for 7 days and record the weather in your neighborhood.

Farmers’ Almanac—check the weather back until 1945.

Farmers’ Almanac—what is an almanac?

Discover 10 simple weather activities for kids.

The Secrets of the Honey Bee

Records from 1810 show that there was honey and honeycomb at Macculloch Hall. Gentleman farmer and citizen scientist George Macculloch (1775-1858) wondered about the small honey bee when he wrote “Is the bee guided by reason or instinct and necessity? Neither legislators nor mathematicians nor architects. What sense brings them home from far?”

Since George Macculloch posed these questions, dedicated scientists and citizen scientists have studied honey bees and have uncovered many secrets of the honey bee’s life. There is still more to learn.

Watch honey bees inside and outside the hive: https://explore.org/livecams/honey-bees/honey-bee-landing-zone-cam

See Liberty Science Center’s virtual honey bee exhibit: https://lsc.org/news-and-social/news/bees-to-bots-experience-the-exhibition-online

Get tips for planting a pollinator-friendly garden: https://thehoneybeeconservancy.org/plant-a-bee-garden-2/

Sweet autumn clematis in bloom in MHHM's pollinator garden.
Sweet autumn clematis in bloom in MHHM’s pollinator garden.

Do a honey bee word search: https://www.buzzaboutbees.net/support-files/beeswordsearch.pdf

Register for a citizen scientist project at: http://millionpollinatorgardens.org or https://www.bumblebeewatch.org

Everyday Arbor Day

From the Oaks to the Sassafras and the Beech to the Redbud, MHHM’s historic garden is a haven for tree lovers! During summer 2019, visitors of all ages explored the trees in MHHM’s garden and collected inspiring “poet-tree” for their garden journals.

“Poet-tree” For Arbor Day

Federico Garcia Lorca
(1898-1936)

Verde que te quiero verde.
Verde veinto.
Verde ramas.

Green I love you green.
Green wind.
Green branches.

Ralph Waldo Emerson
(1803-1882)

The wonder is
that we can see these trees
and not wonder more.                    

Lucy Larcom
(1824-1893)

He who plants a tree
plants a hope.

Resources:

Visit the Arbor Day Foundation to learn about the history of Arbor Day, find ways to celebrate or to explore educational resources.

Read or listen to Joanne Oppenheim’s Have You Seen Trees? to learn why trees are so important.

Visit www.gradeonederful.com to see some of the pages from the picture book and get inspiration for a tree art project.

Use the activity sheet below in the weeks ahead to identify trees in your neighborhood.

Happy Earth Day!

Today marks the 50th celebration of Earth Day. In observation, Macculloch Hall Historical Museum celebrates its historic two-acre garden, located in downtown Morristown. This garden has been a dedicated green space for more than 200 years. Through responsible pesticide-free and environmentally friendly care, a refuge for living creatures both large and small has been created. Its use as a vibrant outdoor teaching space is stronger than ever.

Happy Earth Day!

Resources: 

EarthDay.org:
Watch Earth Day Live or Take 24 Hours of Action at www.earthday.org.

The Newark Museum of Art:
On April 18th the Newark Museum of Art’s virtual Earth Day program engaged NJ-born artist Willie Cole in an Artist Conversation. The virtual chat featured a sculpture by Willie, and discussed his community water bottle projects. Watch it here.

In 1999 Willie Cole received the Recycling Award, now called the Environmental Excellence Award, from the Morris County Municipal Utilities Authority (MCMUA). He recently worked with students in The Pingry School’s art program to create sculptures made of plastic water bottles. Take a look at the students’ work here.

Citizen Science Project: 
Want to celebrate Earth Day every day? Join Earth Challenge 2020! Download the app to gather important scientific data in your neighborhood.

Calling All Citizen Scientists

On this day 190 years ago, George Macculloch (1775-1858) planted corn and the early crops of potatoes and bush beans. These were just three of the 29 types of vegetables and 11 types of fruit that grew on his 26-acre farm in 1830. How do we know this?

George Macculloch was a “gentleman” farmer who kept a garden journal from 1829 to 1856. In this journal he recorded his observations, collected data about his farm and was able to share this information with others. Today, we would identify George Macculloch as a citizen scientist!

April is Global Citizen Scientist month and to celebrate the actions of citizen scientists MHHM is inviting students, families, and adults to take part in a service project which will make George Macculloch’s 19th-century garden journal more accessible to the public. 

Take a close look at George Macculloch’s journal and email Cynthia Winslow at cwinslow@maccullochhall.org with your name and any additional people you will be working with, a contact email address, your first choice of the year to transcribe. Wait for a confirmation with additional information about the next steps. Macculloch Hall Historical Museum thanks you for helping to make New Jersey history more accessible!