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Two garden events at Fort de Chartres

Fort de Chartres State Historic Site is helping gardeners prepare for spring with two special events that offer heirloom seeds, advice on preparing raised beds and tips on pruning trees.

The first of these “jardin potager” (or kitchen garden) events takes place Saturday, Feb. 18, from 10 a.m. to noon.

Carol Kuntz, the historic site’s volunteer garden curator, will lead a seed exchange from 10 a.m. until noon. Visitors can share their extra herb and vegetable seeds and get new ones from other garden enthusiasts. Kuntz will also provide free heirloom seeds and sample seed packets.

Weather permitting, the event will move to the fort’s kitchen garden at 1 p.m., where Kuntz will explain how to prepare raised beds for the upcoming growing season and discuss which vegetables and flowers can be planted in February.

The second garden event is the annual Fort de Chartres Jardin Potager Weekend on March 25 and 26. Visitors are welcome to join volunteers on Saturday at 10:30 a.m. to discuss direct sowing seeds in the garden. After a break, work will begin on preparing raised beds and planting seeds for the approach of spring. Heirloom seed packet samples will be available, too.

These events are free and open to the public. For more information, email Carol at [email protected], visit the Fort de Chartres Jardin Potager Heirloom Project website at, or look them up on Facebook

Fort de Chartres was built by the French military in the 1750s, serving as the seat of government and chief military installation when France controlled the territory. The fort’s powder magazine is the oldest building in Illinois.

The site, a national historic landmark since 1960, is operated by the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency. IHPA protects the state’s historic resources, which contribute to education, culture and the economy. IHPA sites include ancient burial mounds, forts and buildings erected by settlers, and homes connected to famous Illinoisans.

It is located at 1350 IL Route 155, 4 miles west of Prairie du Rocher. It is open Thursday-Sunday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. A site donation of $4 for adults, $2 for children, or $10 per family is suggested.