Medina Journal-Register — WATERPORT — Brown’s Berry Patch welcomed a crowd of local officials and interested visitors on Saturday as its Bicentennial Peace Garden was officially designated as an Honorary International Peace Garden.
The garden is part of a trail of War of 1812 Bicentennial Peace Gardens established to commemorate the significance of the war. The 1812 Bicentennial Peace Garden Project is modeled after a program established by the International Peace Garden Foundation in 1990. At that time, Canada honored the United States with the first International Peace Garden, signifying the friendship between the two countries which have shared the longest undefended border in the world since the War of 1812. Annually since 1990, a country is presented with a Peace Garden in recognition of their commitment to fostering world peace. Presently there are 22 International Peace Gardens spanning five continents.
Bob Brown is part of the seventh generation to work the fields at the family farm, which has become Brown’s Berry Patch. His partner is his brother, Eric. Together, with Bob’s wife Deborah and Eric’s son Robert, they can trace their lineage back to one of Orleans County’s first settlers.
Bob Brown said his family included Elijah and Bathshua Brown when the land the farm now sits on was originally purchased from the Holland Land Company in 1803. The couple was from Connecticut, and made their way to Waterport by way of Sodus Bay. Elijah died soon after arrival, and he became the first person to have a marked grave in Orleans County, Bob said.
A few years later, the very young United States entered into the War of 1812. During that time, Bob said his great-great-great-great-grandmother (give or take a great) Bathshua handled a situation that garnered her somewhat legendary status in the area.
“A British frigate docked on Lake Ontario,” Bob said, noting the ship had a rogue leader. “The captain left and was caught by local vigilantes, who who brought him to my grandmother. She gave him three choices: get turned over to authorities, take his chances against three of her sons, or leave.
“He left,” Bob chuckled, recalling the story.
Brown’s Berry Patch was chosen to have a Bicentennial Peace Garden because of its connection to the War of 1812. Bob said an unsuccessful effort was made to create a garden at the Oak Orchard Lighthouse in Point Breeze before his family was given the honor.
The family farm, he said, started as part of a very thick forest area. “It was so thick that the name “the Black North” came from it,” he said. He also noted that the family farm was unique because it all started with a widow as its leader, which was uncommon for the time.
The Bicentennial Peace Garden at the farm lies along a lengthy fence, representing the border of America and Canada. Its flowers will change seasonally to reflect the peace between the nations, Bob said. In the aforementioned press release, he noted, “These lovely flowers are a constant reminder of how blessed we all are to have come to peace with our neighbors.”
He added that the garden on the farm is the only one with such a distinction in Orleans County.
Among those in attendance at the garden’s dedication were Assemblyman Steve Hawley, Orleans County COO Chuck Nesbitt, Orleans County Tourism Director Wayne Hale, Orleans County Legislator Lynne Johnson, Orleans County Historian Bill Lattin, and Paula Savage. Bob said Savage, who is the director of tourism for VisitRochester, was instrumental in helping Brown’s Berry Patch land the Bicentennial Peace Garden.
He added that more gardens will be dedicated in the United States and Canada as the bicentennial of the war continues next year. Other countries will likely add gardens, too, he said. As for the trail in North America, the garden at Brown’s Berry is a link on a chain of gardens that stretches for 600 miles.
For more information on Brown’s Berry Patch, which has temporarily renamed itself Brown’s Pumpkin Patch, visit the farm’s Facebook page or go online to www.brownsberrypatch.com.