A brick path curves to the house at Plum Grove in Iowa City. (photo/Cindy Hadish)

IOWA CITY, Iowa — Gardeners and history lovers can combine their passions during the Taste of the Heritage Garden, on Wednesday, July 12, 2023.

The event, hosted by the Johnson County Master Gardeners, is held at historic Plum Grove, 1030 Carroll Street in Iowa City, from 5:30 to 7 p.m. A $6 donation offsets the cost of food and activities.

Related: Open Gardens Weekend set in Iowa City

Learn more from the Johnson County Master Gardeners:

IOWA CITY – Johnson County Master Gardeners will celebrate the Taste of the Heritage Garden on Wednesday, July 12. The public is invited to attend this annual celebration that honors and connects Iowa’s citizens with the state’s history, agriculture and food.

The event is held at historic Plum Grove, 1030 Carroll Street in Iowa City, from 5:30 to 7 p.m. The cost is a $6 donation that offsets the cost of food and activities.

Plum Grove was built in 1844 and served as the home of Robert and Friendly Lucas. Robert served as the first governor of the Territory of Iowa from 1838 until 1841. Iowa became a state on Dec. 3, 1846. Johnson County Historical Society cares for the state-owned property and the local Master Gardener group maintains the flower and vegetable gardens.

For well over 20 years, Master Gardener Betty Kelly (1927-2022) organized annual efforts for Plum Grove Gardens and “The Taste.” Now, several Master Gardeners coordinate the annual activities.

Although the produce that was planted in the spring is not ready to harvest when The Taste is held in mid-July, volunteers organize the menu around what was planted focusing on heirloom and organic vegetables that Friendly Lucas might have grown and served in the mid-1800s. Master Gardener social event coordinator Beth Fisher says bringing the annual activity to the public requires the assistance of nearly 50 volunteers. From conception to clean up, many hands are needed to prepare for the activity.

Dane’s Dairy ice cream and rhubarb punch are perennial Taste favorites. The public can purchase a recipe cookbook that serves as an activity program and features recipes of foods served this year.

As they have for many years, the Old Post Office Brass Band will perform throughout the activity.

Should inclement weather prohibit an outdoor activity, the festivities will be moved to Johnson County Extension Office, at Johnson County Fairgrounds, 3109 Old Hwy 218 South, Iowa City.

Plum Grove showcases four gardens: vegetable (1995), Grandma’s Heirloom Flower Garden (1998), a wildflower garden (2000), and Quester’s Rose Garden (2010). The historic vegetable and flower gardens are part of the Smithsonian Archives of American Gardens. Plum Grove was a featured garden on the Project GREEN Open Garden Weekend 2023.

The Plum Grove Gardens are laid out in typical-1850s style with four sections and rows of vegetables planted in a north-south direction. The vegetable gardens are raised accommodating the archeologist’s request to minimize disturbing the ground on the property. The flower garden is located on the old barn site.

The Johnson County Master Gardeners program was organized in 1982. The volunteer program is sponsored by Iowa State University and Johnson County Extension and Outreach. JCMG provides current, research-based, home horticulture information and education to Iowa residents through programs and projects.

More: See photos from another historic garden in Iowa

The vegetable garden is seen at Plum Grove in Iowa City, Iowa. (photo/Linda Schreiber)