In June of 1843, Bronson Alcott, Charles Lane and a handful of followers left Concord and moved to this farmhouse in Harvard,Massachusetts. Alcott brought his wife and four young daughters, including a 10 year old Louisa May Alcott. They called this place Fruitlands because they intended to live off the "fruits of the land".
To sustain the fledgling community, the group planned to grow fruits, vegetables, some grains, and gathering wild nuts. By July they had made a good start, planting about 11 acres: 4 acres of maize, 1.5 of rye, 1.5 in oats, 1 in barley, 2 in potatoes and another 1 in beans, peas, melons, squashes, buckwheat and turnips (an additional area was prepared for carrots).
Over the course of the summer, the participants included Mr and Mrs. Alcott, their four girls, Mr Lane and his son William, H.C Wright, Samuel Bower, Isaac Hecker, Christopher Green, Samuel Larned, Abraham Everett, Anne Page, Joseph Palmer and Abraham Wood. Neither coffee, tea, molasses, nor rice tempts us beyond the bounds of indigenous production ... No animal substances neither flesh, butter, cheese, eggs, nor milk pollute our tables, nor corrupt our bodies.
At Fruitlands, Alcott was able to withdraw from institutions and social structures for a much needed retreat and to explore the relationships between individuals and their world.To Alcott, the material world, especially nature, expressed aspects of the universal divinity - ideas that became central aspects of Transcendentalism. His vision for a new order included a philosophy that explained and integrated changes in science, technology and man’s relationship to God. He believed the universe was benevolent, that everything has a spiritual essence, and that “one Divine nature flows through all visible things.”
Clara Endicott Sears was inspired by a "ghost of the past" to restore Fruitlands in 1914 as a museum to preserve the memory of Alcott's experiment and the Transcendentalist movement.
Visit and Discover...
- Let your children explore the Journal Writing Room where they can find inspiration as they work right alongside Henry David Thoreau's desk.
- Climb to the attic bedroom where future author Louisa May Alcott lived with her sisters and wrote in her journal about life at Fruitlands.
- Play 19th century games like hoops, graces and shifts.
- Learn about Bronson Alcott, the most radical educator in 19th century Boston, his cutting-edge educational methods (like recess!), and his friendships with Thoreau, Fuller, Emerson and other Transcendentalists and social reformers.
- In the Palmer Kitchen your family can learn about daily domestic life in the 19th century and compare it to how we live today.
- Learn about Bronson Alcott and his progressive ideas as an advocate for sustainable living, cold water therapy, vegetarianism & veganism.