Creating a Life of Plenty

Discovering The Genius of Thomas Jefferson


I have always been an admirer of Thomas Jefferson. As a founding father and third President of the United States, the history book version was always painted as a patriotic leader; but his life as a gentleman farmer and gardener is what finally lured me to visit Monticello, Thomas Jefferson’s plantation in Virginia. But what I discovered on my visit there was more than I had hoped.

For my first blog post I am going to talk about, what else? Vegetable gardening!

The Monticello kitchen garden was created by enslaved people on his plantation by carving out the side of the mountain the plantation resides on. The garden plateau or shelf is 80 feet wide and 1,000 feet long and is supported by a massive stone wall built from stones excavated during the carving of the shelf.

The garden served as a laboratory where Jefferson planted 330 varieties of more than 70 species of vegetables. Only some of this produce was actually used by the plantation and much of the produce consumed by the residents of Monticello was either from the surrounding farmland or purchased from the enslaved people on the plantation from their own gardens for extra money.

The garden also includes a fruitery and vineyard that is planted in smaller terraced steps below the kitchen garden.

As you can see by the pictures of the garden, it is a massive undertaking that was maintained in small part by Jefferson himself and mostly by a select group of skilled enslaved gardeners.

I took hundreds of pictures of plants, garden structures, etc. on this trip, I will be learning lessons from Monticello for years!

Happy Gardening!

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