Fort de Chartres Heritage Garden

Un journal d'un Jardin Potager du Pays des Illinois

Jardin Potager – French Kitchen Garden

Welcome to our Jardin Potager outside the walls of Fort de Chartres! This garden has been planted in the style of a French l’habitant kitchen garden generally tended by the women of the Illinois Country. The accounts of the era remarked that the gardens contained a variety of the finest vegetables that were cultivated in raised beds, intermingled with herbs, flowers, and shrubs, located next to small orchards containing a variety of the choicest fruits. It was noted that l’habitants needed a substantial garden in order to be able to lay in a supply of vegetables and fruits for the winter months, along with the seasonal produce to be enjoyed during the growing season.

Pruning demonstration of heirloom apple trees.

Pruning demonstration of heirloom apple trees.

In deciding what to plant in our jardin potager, period and handed down regional recettes (recipes) were explored. Their ingredients were the basis of the vegetable and fruit choices cultivated. Heirloom seeds and plants have been planted to reflect the varieties that might have been cultivated mid 18th century in the Illinois Country.

Located beyond the raised beds of the jardin potager, is a large garden area that is planted each season in late May with heirloom melons, watermelon, winter squash, and heritage corn.

Thank you to the Fort de Chartres Historic Site Staff, Les Amis de Fort de Chartres (The Friends of Fort de Chartres), KGI International, and individual donors  for their financial and volunteer support of this heirloom garden project.

Heirloom seed sources:  Monticello Heirloom Seeds, Seeds Saver’s Exchange,  Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds,  Bountiful Gardens, Sustainable Seeds

To begin a journey exploring written accounts of the colonial French era, reference the writings of Henry Brackenridge,  Nicolas de Finiels,  Pehr Kalm, John Reynolds.

For further writings by modern historians regarding eighteenth century Illinois Country: Charles John Balesi, Margaret Kimball Brown, Carl J. Ekberg, John Francis McDermott, and John A. Walthall.

Jardin 2016 seed exchange (CK)

Jardin 2016 seed exchange (CK) 2017 Seed Exchange, February 18.

Vegetables & Fruits planted this season in the Jardin Potager:

Asparagus, Bush & Pole Bean, Beet, Cabbage, Carrot, Corn, Cucumber, Eggplant, Kale, Leek, Lettuce, Melon, Onion, Peas, Radish, Spinach, Summer and Winter Squash, Turnip, Watermelon

Please visit and like the Jardin’s FACEBOOK page for the latest Fort de Chartres Heritage Garden updates and events. One of the missions of this heritage garden is to share with the public heirloom sample seed packets to encourage exploration of the amazing vegetables, flowers, and herbs of the past.

Watercolor of Carol by artist Cathy Johnson.

Please visit us and watch our jardin grow!

Carol Kuntz,

Fort de Chartres  Heritage Jardin Potager Project Curator & Volunteer


  1. Your site is a wonderful report and tourism attractive as is the real thing.

  2. Sonja Lallemand

    16 July, 2012 at 14:27

    Ms. Kuntz:

    One of the Jackson County Master Gardner sent me the link to your site. I am very impressed with what you have accomplished. I am interested in your upcoming events and come for a visit.

  3. My Morrisseau family is supposed to be from Kaskaskia so this information on l’habitant garden is great. Love history like this.

  4. I am very glad to have discovered this site. Thank you for your work on these gardens.

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