Living off the land

Learn about sustainability 17th-century style at Kingston’s Senate House this Saturday

by Lynn Woods
A darning clinic will be offered by Dawn Elliott, who invites visitors to bring their own textiles for a consultation
The spacious yard of the Senate House State Historic Site, located in Uptown Kingston, will be bustling on Saturday, May 14 with people in Colonial dress cooking over open hearths, darning homespun clothing and writing with quills. There will also be tours of the Senate House, with a focus on the historic building and household practices of the Hudson Valley in the 17th and 18th centuries.

The free event, which is titled “Sustainable Living, 17th- and 18th-century Hudson Valley Style,” will have a green bent as well: Master gardener Allyson Levy – hosted by the Kingston Land Trust, one of the event sponsors – will shed light on the types of plants found in a typical Colonial kitchen garden and what they were used for, at 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. The discussion and demonstration by herbalist Dina Falconi, who concocts her own herbal preparations and medicinal remedies, is proof that plants continue to inspire and heal people in modern times.

Town of Ulster historian Robert Sweeney will lead the Senate House tours at 10:30 a.m. and 12:30 and 2:30 p.m.; as a member of Hudson Valley Vernacular Architecture, which is also an event sponsor, he is well-versed in traditional building styles of the region. Peter Cutul, a history educator with the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation at Fort Montgomery, will talk about historic land use as it relates to farming and food preservation practices.

The darning clinic will be offered by Dawn Elliott – she invites visitors to bring their own textiles for a consultation – and the Scions of Patria, resplendent in their authentic 17th-century Dutch clothing, will present the Colonial cooking demonstrations. Kids are invited to try out the quills as well as learn about plants, with each potting a seedling to take home.

For more information, call (845) 338-2786 or visit The free event, which will run from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., includes free admission to the Senate House.

© 2011