We now grow our own food and can, preserve and pickle what we can’t use right away. This process lead us to another project called Preserving Equality: Preserving Fruits and Vegetables, where we playfully invoke the importance of ‘preservation’ in both historic house museums and in the local food movement. Preserving fruits and vegetables is a critical part of sustainability. It allows us, for example, to partake of the delicious scent and flavor of a peach in the dead of winter by opening a jar of local preserves, instead of relying on peaches shipped from halfway across the globe. Since local fruits and vegetables are so abundant and delicious during certain times of the year, we decided to can the excess and sell them to the public to both generate income for the soup kitchen and to educate the public about seasonality.
This project also presents the opportunity to honor the trailblazing women of ‘the grand domestic revolution’, many of whom earned home economics degrees because Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science Degrees were denied to women. On each label of canned tomatoes or peaches, is the brief biography of an important revolutionary. This project has not only allowed us to bring two important movements together but to expand the stories that are told at the Museum. I strongly believe that an ethical imperative of any our history museum profession is to ask our selves every so often, “Which stories are being told and which are not?” And more importantly, we can begin to ask the even more dangerous question: “Who gains by leaving these stories out and what is at stake in their re-telling?” This commitment to giving voice to the lives of the forgotten addresses the historical and selective amnesia that afflicts us all too often.