Fort Larned National Historic Site is in the middle of a major overhaul. Transforming and restoring all buildings back to what they would have looked like in the 1860s when the fort was an active military base. But to really make the transformation complete, they are also restoring the grounds to what they would have looked like 150 years ago.
"We wanted to add more living things to our site," George Elmore, chief ranger said. "We want our guests to have the complete feeling of stepping back in time, instead of just visiting a stagnant museum."
So far they're just working on one garden, located behind the North Officers' Quarters, which will grow things that soldiers would have grown while living here. But they hope to expand to have much more in the future.
"There were several gardens here back in the 1800s" Elmore said. "The officers wives had flower gardens, and there were herb gardens to season their food, and lots of vegetable gardens."
Vegetables were so popular to grow because canned vegetables were not a common everyday item. Instead soldiers survived mostly on a diet of meat and bread. So, when spring came around and they could plant foods to supplement that bland diet, they did.
"We're planting things that would have been grown back then," Elmore said. "But, it's not that different from today. Radishes were popular, as were turnips, squash, green beans, onions and corn."
Fort Larned is looking for interested volunteers to come out to the site, and help plant and tend to the gardens throughout the spring and summer.
"We're looking for boy and girl scouts, or any other clubs or organizations who would like to help out," Elmore said. "Or even individuals if they're interested."
There's no time requirements to volunteer, Fort Larned is flexible and will work around your schedule.
"Most volunteers come out on the weekend, because that's when they have free," Elmore said. "But if someone has Wednesdays free and would like to come out, that's fine too."
Fort Larned has other volunteer opportunities as well. They are looking for a woman to be a laundress, men to sit in barracks and talk about soldier life, officers wives and more.
To volunteer call (620) 285-6911 and tell them what you would like to volunteer for. Fort Larned is open daily from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. except for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day. Admission is free. For more information visit their website at http://www.nps.gov/fols/index.htm.
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