The gardens at Hancock Shaker Village serve a variety of purposes. A medicinal herb garden demonstrates the herbs used by the Shakers. In the 1790s, the Shakers were among the first suppliers of medicinal herbs to the pharmaceutical market, a business that lasted until the 1930s. Some examples are: coltsfoot, which was said to cure whooping cough and asthma; hollyhock, said to cure “female weakness,” coughs, bladder and kidney ailments; and mugwort,said to aid with epilepsy and hysteria.
Large sections of our gardens are devoted to growing heirloom vegetables from saved Shaker seeds. These gardens provide produce for our Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) shareholders each season.
Our garden staff adheres to traditional growing practices; those learned from the Shakers, and those the Shakers learned from others, including the Native Americans. The “three sisters” illustrate the principle of companion planting. Garden staff plants corn, squash and beans in the same mound. These crops benefit from one another, providing nutrients in the soil, pest control, and a natural climbing structure.