PORTSMOUTH, N.H.(June 15, 2017) — Strawbery Banke Museum and Future In Sight (formerly the NH Association for the Blind) are both among the six beneficiaries of the Roger R. & Theresa S. Thompson Foundation Fund. On June 15 the two partnered on starting to realize the Thompson Fund award of a $20,000 grant to Strawbery Banke for a new Botanical Sciences program to complement the Horticulture Center now, in development. After the Thompson Fund encouraged partnerships among and between all six beneficiaries, the Strawbery Banke- Future In Sight collaboration became first.
Last November the two began four-season project to interpret the campus for the vision-impaired. In November Strawbery Banke introduced a group of vision-impaired adults to the architecture program offered by the Education Department. The hands-on activity turned the group into a construction crew working as a team to assemble a tabletop model of an 18th-century post-and-beam house. In January the NH Association for the Blind visited Labrie Family Skate in conjunction with the Living Innovation adaptive assistance program at the rink.
On June 15th, the program shifted to Strawbery Banke’s gardens as 14 participants joined Erik Wochholz, curator of historic landscapes and director of the museum’s Horticulture Department for a scent and taste tour of the Sherbrune House Colonial Garden and a workshop on distilling essential oils from rosemary.
Stephanie Hurd, Future In Sight manager commented, “We are thrilled that Strawbery Banke has moved so quickly and imaginatively to provide a variety of experiences that are appropriate and fitting for the group, understanding that those with vision loss may have unique questions and requests during their time.”
The discussions in the garden and in the Horticulture Center ranged over historic and modern uses of plants for medicinal and cooking purposes. As Erik explained the use of archaeology to discover what plants may have been familiar in past centuries, dissolving a deep soil layer sample in water and then skimming pollen and plant elements that float to the top, one of the participants said, “That’s the coolest thing I’ve learned today!’
Another observed that the sweet cicely seeds tasted more and more like anise the longer you chewed, while Erik explained that the herb was often used to combat nausea.
“In the past few years, Strawbery Banke has worked hard to make the 10-acre museum more accessible through the addition of ramps, participatory activities and partnerships,” said Lawrence J. Yerdon, Strawbery Banke President and CEO. “The collaboration with Future In Sight enables all of us to see the campus in a different way and helps us appreciate how to create unique hands-on experiences that, in Ms. Hurd’s words, ‘allow for time to truly grasp the fully rich opportunities’ here. The mutual connection with the Thompson Fund meant this initiative came together even more quickly than it might have.”
About Strawbery Banke Museum located in the heart of historic Portsmouth, New Hampshire, is a 10-acre outdoor history museum dedicated to bringing 300+ years of American history to life. The Museum is a place for children, adults, multi-generational families and groups to gather to explore heritage gardens, historic buildings, crafts, preservation programs, hands-on activities, stories told by costumed role-players and the changing exhibits that offer hours of fun and discovery. The Museum’s restored buildings and open space invite visitors to immerse themselves in the past. The Museum welcomes 95,000 visitors, members, schoolchildren and volunteers who love New Hampshire history for daily programs, exhibits, skating and signature special events throughout the year. For a complete calendar of events, please visit www.strawberybanke.org.