Donate to the Museum

History of the Harvest

What began as a couple of garden beds showing some of the state’s native plants and their uses, has now blossomed into a block-long, living, thriving outdoor exhibit highlighting North Carolina’s rich agricultural legacy. The North Carolina Museum of History is also growing its partners, teaming up this year with Farm Bureau, to help tell the story of North Carolina agriculture—from small family farms to larger agribusinesses and research for the future.

Farm Bureau was started to advocate and provide for rural farmers, and their continued commitment to the needs of farmers and to the growth and health of all communities, makes them a natural partner for this exhibit.

History of the Harvest serves as an exciting outdoor classroom that gives visitors and passers-by a hands-on opportunity to learn firsthand about North Carolina agriculture. The exhibit covers everything from medicinal plants gown by American Indians before European contact to new hybrids developed using advanced plant-breeding technology.

Through public programs and by working with Farm Bureau’s Ag in the Classroom program, the museum extends learning about the state’s dynamic agricultural history to teachers and students across the state.

“The museum’s focus is historical—looking back at how people have interacted with their environment,” said Emily Grant, Youth Programs Coordinator at the Museum of History. “Our partnership with Farm Bureau helps bring that story to life, honoring our agricultural past and connecting that to today’s practices and issues in the field of agriculture. North Carolina is still an agricultural state, and what is being done here in agricultural research and development continues to make history around the world.”

Welcome to History of the Harvest exhibit by NC Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler: 

About Farm Bureau

The North Carolina Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Company, originally headquartered in Greensboro, was incorporated in 1953 to provide affordable insurance to rural farmers. Today Farm Bureau is the largest domestic property and casualty insurance company in the state, serving members in local communities in all 100 counties of North Carolina. We hold an A.M. Best Company, Inc. rating of A (excellent), and our agents work hard every day to maintain the financial stability and strength to provide the security you need when misfortunes occur.

About Ag in the Classroom

The Ag in the Classroom program extends Farm Bureau’s commitment to communities directly to the classroom, providing instructional, classroom-ready lesson plans for teachers, conferences and programs, and literacy development through their book of the month. Lesson plans explore fibers, animals and produce through vocabulary and activities for all levels of instruction.

History of the Harvest Exhibit Outline, Programs, and Links

Exhibit Outline

History of the Harvest is presented in six sections with distinct planting beds. Large informational signs guide visitors as they walk along Bicentennial Plaza.

Exhibit Intro: Welcome video by NC Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler: 

Nature’s Garden and Gardens of Life and Health: The first two sections focus on medicinal and culinary plants that were indigenous to the state or introduced by settlers. This section highlights plants such as sassafras, rivercane, rosemary and rue.

Early Agriculture: This section centers on the “three sisters” companion planting arrangement traditionally used by American Indians in North Carolina. Corn, beans, and squash, the “three sisters,” were grown together because the plants benefit each other.

Changing the Landscape and North Carolina as an Agricultural State: Cash crops such as tobacco and cotton which were important to the Tar Heel State, are featured in these beds, as well as other crops grown by today’s North Carolina famers, such as our state vegetable, the sweet potato. North Carolina currently leads the nation in sweet potato production.

More information:

THJHA article: I Know How to Work

THJHA article: What in the World is a Hogshead?

THJHA article: Inventions in the Textile Industry

NC Sweet Potato Commission

The State Fair

From Field to Lab: Agriculture is a billion-dollar industry in the state and North Carolina continues to be a leader in the complex web of agribusinesses competing on a world market and on the forefront of biotechnology research and development.

Dr. Chilton talks about spending part of her childhood growing up in North Carolina, her work producing the first transgenic (genetically engineered) plants, and her role in creating a world-class research facility at Research Triangle Park. Approximate run time: 36 minutes.



Symbols of the State: From dogwood trees to blueberries, strawberries and muscadine grapes, North Carolina’s signature plants are highlighted in this area.

Related Links

North Carolina Agriculture Overview

National Ag in the Classroom

Farm Flavor

North Carolina Agriculture 1860-2007

Got to Be NC