Food in the Garden

LOGO: Food in the Garden, 2014 summer series

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Buy tickets for individual events below

Commemorate the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Baltimore and celebrate the Star-Spangled Banner, the flag that inspired our national anthem, with the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History and Smithsonian Gardens this September.  FOOD in the Garden 2014 will explore four maritime regions where battles were waged during the War of 1812: Long Island Sound, the Chesapeake Bay, the Great Lakes, and the Gulf of Mexico. We’ll look back and look forward at 200 years of connections between land and water, people and food. Enjoy evenings of food, drinks, and dynamic conversation in a relaxed garden atmosphere on Thursday evenings in September.

Tickets: $30 each. Each ticket includes two drinks (courtesy of Green Hat Gin and Distillery Lane Ciderworks) and a plate of historically inspired and garden fresh food.

Learn more about the research behind this year's topic on the blog.


Events are located in the Victory Garden on the corner of Constitution Ave. and 12th Street NW from 6-8 PM


September 4
Human Impact: The Long Island Sound

In 1812, Long Island Sound, one of the nation’s most historic estuaries, was a crossroads of trade and agriculture. Seeds from around the globe were brought to its shores and ships brought goods produced in the region out to the world. The area was, and continues to be, renowned for the abundance of goods it produces. From its many farms and wineries to its thriving seafood industry, Long Island Sound has become synonymous with the production of fresh, tasty food and drink. But what has been the human impact on the region in the past 200 years? This program will explore the relationship between Long Island Sound and the people that inhabit it, specifically focusing on how the fishing and agricultural industries have transformed the environment. We will explore how the area has changed since the War of 1812, and learn what new and exciting things are taking place to protect Long Island Sound while still producing amazing, regional food and drink. 

Panelists: Cindy Lobel, Professor of History at Lehman College and author of Urban Appetites: Food and Culture in Nineteenth-Century New York; Stephanie Villani, co-owner of Blue Moon Fish, and Diana Whitsit of Terry Farms. 

In the Marketplace: Sample fruit spirits with Westford Hills Distillery, experience salt-making demos with Amagansett Sea Salt, talk with Dr. Michael Craghan about the EPA's Long Island Sound Study, and learn about what's blooming in the Garden from Smithsonian Gardens.

September 11
Cultural Connections: The Chesapeake

The Chesapeake Bay, described as “an immense protein factory” by Baltimore writer H.L. Mencken, long supported an abundance of oysters, crabs, clams, and many species of finfish.  These productive waters along with the bay’s extensive network of navigable tributaries shaped the region’s foodways.  Through trade, transportation, and communication the region’s natural bounties were brought together with new people, foods, and flavors from around the globe, particularly Africa, the Caribbean, England, and Europe. How did these cultural connections come together in the Chesapeake region and how did they find expression in gardens, landscapes, communities, kitchens, and around the region’s tables?  The session will explore the 1812 period as well as the long-term impact of these dynamic connections on the bay’s marine environment and resources. 

Panelists: Mollie Ridout, Director of Horticulture for Historic Annapolis Foundation; Psyche Williams-Forson, Associate Professor of American Studies at University of Maryland, and Denise Breitburg, marine ecologist at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center.

In the Marketplace: Culinary historian Pat Reber gives historic cooking tool and ingredient demonstrations, Steve Bashore of the historic Mount Vernon Distillery gives distilling demonstrations, Flying Dog Brewery offers beer samples and information about their oyster recovery initiatives, experience Dr. Ralph E. Eshelman as War of 1812 Commodore Joshua Barney, and learn about what's blooming in the Garden from Smithsonian Gardens – with McMahon’s The American Gardener’s Calendar from the Smithsonian Botany Library

September 18
Exotics and Invasives: The Great Lakes

The Great Lakes region was integral to the War of 1812, a front for several naval and land conflicts such as the assaults on Ft. Meigs and the Battle of Put-in-Bay. Once referred to as the Eden of the West, the Great Lakes region included hundreds of miles of untamed wilderness, rolling rivers, and dense forest encompassing modern day New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, and Michigan. The region was home to the Chippewa, Ottawa, and Iroquois tribes, who valued the waterways as a means of life. With the increasing demand for elbow room, European-Americans began to extend their reach westward into relatively unfamiliar territory with the hope of thriving off of abundant, fertile land. With them came exotic and—in some cases—invasive species never before seen in the region such as apples, peaches, swine, and other fare that would come to define the region. How did the introductions of new plant and animal species affect the cultural foodways of the people who lived there and continue to live in the region today?

200 years later, this region is the cultural center of the Midwest with over 32 million people living along the lakes. Although early settlements have come and gone, many heirloom seeds native to this region have stood the test of time and there is an ever-present effort to preserve them, not only for consumption but for their cultural significant as well.

Panelists: Jodi Branton, National Museum of American Indian;  Rick Finch, interim director of the Glenn Miller Birth Place Museum and former site manager of Fort Meigs: Ohio’s War of 1812 Battleground ; and Tim Rose, geologist at the National Museum of Natural History and cider maker with Distillery Lane.

In the Marketplace: Whisked! Bakery’s Jenna Huntsberger showcases rhubarb and apple pies, Distillery Lane Ciderworks presents cider making demonstrations, Meatcrafters charcuterie discusses artisanal meat, and learn about what's blooming in the Garden from Smithsonian Gardens.

September 25
Marketplaces: New Orleans


New Orleans has always been a crossroads of people, ideas, and products. What was created out of this dynamic interplay of people and products at this global crossroads of New Orleans? At the heart of NOLA are the people, a very diverse population ranging from Native Americans, French, Spanish, Africans, and other subsequent waves of immigrants. Drawing from abundant natural marine resources, adding diverse foods from around the world through merchants and settlers, the NOLA population created one of the most unique and influential foodscapes in the world.  The markets and new migrants continue to thrive and draw from the many unique cultural and natural resources of the area.

PanelistsAshley Young, historian of food markets and street food culture in the 19th century; and David Guas, chef/owner of Bayou Bakery, Coffee Bar & Eatery in Arlington, VA [and coming Winter 2014 to Washington, DC] and host of American Grilled on Travel Channel.  

In the Marketplace: Chesapeake Bay Roasting Company brews up coffee roasting demos, American History museum staff present Heirloom rice presented by American History Museum staff, Capital City Co. serves up DC staple Mumbo Sauce, Phillip Greene gives New Orleans cocktail history demos and signs his book To Have and Have Another, and learn about what's blooming in the Garden from Smithsonian Gardens.

Programs made possible through the generous support of:
DuPont Pioneer
The Julia Child Foundation for Gastronomy and the Culinary Arts

As the home of the Star-Spangled Banner, the Museum is highlighting the 200th anniversary of the flag throughout 2014. For more information, visit

Photos from previous Food in the Garden events: