By Stephen Orr
Those who work at Monticello, the Virginia plantation of our third president, go about their tasks with an invisible companion at their sides. And nowhere is TJ -- as Thomas Jefferson is fondly referred to by much of the staff -- more present than in the 2,500-acre estateâ€™s remarkable vegetable garden.
Thomas Jefferson's restored kitchen garden, viewed by half a million visitors a year, stretches over three football fields in length. Jefferson designed the garden temple, which marks the halfway point.
In 1977, Peter Hatch began the restoration of Jefferson's vegetable garden, transforming it into a museum of heirloom vegetables and fruits.
Hatch is the author of "A Rich Spot of Earth: Thomas Jeffersonâ€™s Revolutionary Garden at Monticello," an account of the long (and still ongoing) journey to reclaim and authentically restore the kitchen garden from the flower beds that had replaced it by the time he arrived in 1977.
The classically inspired garden temple, with its oversize double-hung windows, is an airy observatory over miles of unspoiled Albemarle County landscape. Jefferson wrote, "How sublime to look down into the workhouse of nature, to see her clouds, hail, snow, rain, thunder, all fabricated at our feet!"