ELP Gardeners

Dear Parents, AKA. Officers – First – thank you for assisting your classroom with this adventure. The ELP experience is one you and your child will remember for a lifetime. This packet is to assist you to ready yourself and your group for the overnight experience to Colony Ross. The more prepared you are, and the more prepared the students are, the better the experience for all. Please read the packet carefully. The packet is in two sections: first section is for pre-site preparations and the second section is for the onsite visit. You will want to bring the on-site section with you as it has pertinent information you will need.

One of the main objectives in establishing the Ross Colony was to grow food to feed the Alaskan settlements.  Growing was so important that specialists such as Chernykh were sent to the colony to help increase productivity.

Overseen by Russians, the labor was largely carried out by the Kashaya Pomo and Coast Miwok people, some of whom lived at Settlement Ross with the Russians.

As gardeners, you are responsible for planting, caring for and gathering food from the garden.

Brief History and Walking Tour - Read this to your employees in your group in the classroom and bring this information with you for your onsite tour.

Regulations and Privileges of the Employees (historic) - Read this to your employees


1.                  The Kashaya Pomo and Coast Miwok peoples were an integral part of the Ross settlement; study their lifestyle. What was it like before Europeans came to California?

2.                  How were the Indian people treated at Fort Ross?

3.                  Find out what crops were produced at Settlement Ross and compare Mission and Russian agriculture.

4.                  Research what kinds of plants grew in the area.

5.                  Plan garden area.

6.                  Make a banner for your group.

7.                  Buy or get plant donations. Please do not use plastic plant ID markers.

Foods Growing at Fort Ross

Food was abundant at Settlement Ross. Below is a list of foods known to have been either grown by Ross residents, introduced to the settler's diet by Native Alaskan or Pomo cultures, or brought to the colony through trade. All but the foods known to the Pomo people were, of course, introduced to the region's ecology. Seeds and plants were brought from all over the world. Radishes, for example, came from China. The Spanish introduced the peppers grown at the settlement from South America. The list is not intended to be a complete inventory, and research is ongoing.

Grown Fruits:                                                  

peaches, apples, pears, apricots, cherries, quince, plums, grapes, melons such as casabas, watermelons, cantaloupes.                                         

Grown Vegetables:                                        

winter squashes, pumpkins, cabbage served both fresh and as sauerkraut, beets, turnips, carrots, potatoes, onions, garlic, radishes, horseradish, peas, beans, lettuce, parsley, mints,

Grown Grains:

millet, wheat, barley, buckwheat (kasha).                   

Grown Flowers: roses, calendula.                 

Honey: from beehives in the orchard

Mushrooms: gathered from nature

Pomo Influence:

purslane, miner's lettuce, mustard greens, wild onion, bay laurel, acorns, hazelnut

wild grains, roots of cattail, shellfish

dill, fennel, wild carrot, blackberries,

huckleberries, thimbleberrie

Tools at Colony Ross

Agriculture was expanded at Ross under Manager Schmidt from 1821 to 1825.  Agricultural implements made under his direction were equal to the best European standards. The Russians were better supplied with farm implements than were their Spanish neighbors. Their plows surpassed those used elsewhere in Alta California for many years. The Spanish in California were impressed by the windmills.

1841 Inventory Included:

1  steel machine for clearing wheat    

26 horse-drawn plows   

19 Ox-drawn plows

1   rake with steel teeth 

10 rakes with wooden teeth

5   carts with 4 wheels   

10   carts with 2 wheels

wooden threshing floors

Planting Seasons for Fort Ross Vegetables

Equipment Available for Gardeners
Shovels, spades
Yokes for carrying water buckets
Water buckets
Reed for basket making


Seeds, bulbs or plants, and non-chemical fertilizer for your garden, and materials to make your company's sign.

Scarecrows at Colony Ross

If you want to make a scarecrow for the garden, please make sure it is dressed in Russian American Company era clothing.

Please remember that you are coming to a state park. Do NOT remove any objects that are lying on the ground: rocks, shells, glass, bones etc. If you find anything that appears to be historically or environmentally important please leave it where it is found and advise Park Interpretive Specialist of the item's location. All features of the park are protected. Remember: Take only pictures and leave only footprints.

Also remember that many things that have been done in the past are not acceptable today.  Butchering of live animals on-site or bringing in weapons is not permitted.  All butchered meat must be dressed before you bring it to the fort. State Park rules and regulations must be observed. If you have any questions please call the Interpretive Specialist.

Encourage students to bring a minimum of personal gear.


2.         WARM SLEEPING BAG, PAD & GROUND CLOTH--You will sleep on wood floors in the fort buildings.

3.         EATING UTENSILS: Cup, plate and/or bowl, knife, fork, spoon, and water bottle.

 4.         PERSONAL TOILET ARTICLES:  Don't forget sun screen, the sun can be very strong. Bring toothbrush and toothpaste.

5.         ANY NECESSARY MEDICATIONS:  Include written instructions for the teacher; give medications and instructions to the teacher upon departure.

6.         PENCIL:  For writing in journals and sketching.

7.         HEADGEAR: Russian scarf for girls and/or a warm hat for night watch. Sun hats are highly recommended for students and adults alike, especially for spring or fall dates.

8.         CHANGE OF CLOTHES AND SHOES:  Children and parents should wear their costume to the fort. Bring a second set of clothes as well. Even if the weather looks warm, evenings are always quite cold on the coast. Students' feet and clothing often get wet during the day's activities therefore two pairs of shoes are essential. Black rain boots are highly recommended.


1.           NAME TAGS: Create your own name tag with a Fort Ross design and character's  name.


Role Play Characters for the Gardeners

Egor Leontievich Chernykh - A Creole -  Born in Kamchatka about 1813. He was the son of a Russian priest and a native Kamchadl woman. He was sent to Moscow to enroll in the agricultural school that just opened by the Imperial Moscow Agriculture Society. He graduated in 1827.  On August 18, 1835 he arrived on board the brig Sitkha and landed in Monterey. From there he traveled overland and in January 1836 arrived at Colony Ross. He developed agriculture at Fort Ross. His salary was 3,500 rubles per year. He built and worked at Rancho Chernykh located somewhere between Occidental and Graton. He wrote several articles for Russian journals while at the colony. When the colony was sold in 1841,

Chernykh returned to Sitka and was given a raise to 5,000 rubles a year. His wife, Ekaterina, gave birth to their son, Nikolai, in 1842. In 1843 Chernykh died of "nerve fever."

Feofilat Druzhinin - A Creole - living in Sitka, he became an assistant to Il'ia G. Voznesenskii.  Voznesenskii noted that "with his natural talent, was enterprising, stayed with me, and with Etholen's approval accompanied me on all my journeys through the colonies". Druzhinin came to Ross with Voznesenskii in 1841. He continued to work in the colonies after Ross was sold, and in 1853 was married to Iroida Kelgren in Kodiak. They had three sons. He died in 1862.

Vasilii Khlebnikov - A Russian - nephew of K.T. Khlebnikov. Vasilii was manager of one of the three Company ranchos near the Ross Settlement. This ranch helped to supply the Ross Settlement and Sitka with agricultural products. In 1841 he returned to Sitka along with the other Company personnel.

Alexei Shukshin - A Russian - worked at Ross Colony. A falling tree killed him during work in the forest on July 27, 1820.

Vasilii Starkovskii - A Russian - He died at Ross March 11, 1827. He left no will so his cash estate of 843 rubles and 56 kopeks was placed in the Company's charitable fund in Sitka. He was at Ross to keep accounts at the store and to help Schmidt with the paperwork. His signature is on several documents regarding the settlement of Ross. He was also responsible for the sowing of crops on both Company land and his own private land.

Elena Pavlovna Gagarina Rotcheva - a Russian - Married to Aleksander Rotchev, the last manager of Ross. She brought with her to Ross her fine belongings, her piano, and library. They were known by visitors for their great hospitality, their cuisine, the Princess' skill at the piano, and the creation of an atmosphere of gentility and refinement in this remote outpost.


Il'ia Gavrilovich Voznesenskii - A Russian - Born June 19, 1816 in St. Petersburg. At the age of five he started as a typesetter. He started studying with the Zoological Museum and the Academy of Sciences. He showed such skill and diligence that they recommended he be given a salary. In 1834 he was made an assistant and paid 400 rubles per year. In 1839 he was appointed to travel to Russian America for a five-year period. Voznesenskii worked in the colonies in Alaska until ordered to go to the Ross Colony in 1840. While in California he made several trips around the San Francisco area, the Russian River area, climbed Mt. St. Helena, and explored clear to Sacramento where John Sutter hosted him. He gathered plant and animal specimens. He continued his work with the Company in Alaska for a total of ten years. Upon his return to St. Petersburg he catalogued and studied his specimens and other collections that arrived at the museum.

Johann Friedrich Eschscholtz - A German- Born November 1, 1793 in Dorpat, Germany. He showed talent in natural history at a very young age. He received a degree as a doctor of medicine. He sailed on the round-the-world voyage on the ship Rurik, under Otto von Kotzebue. He worked with Adelbert V. Chamisso, a naturalist. Eschscholtz focused on insects and sea animals. He was the first to discover and record prehistoric bones in Alaska. When they were in California, Chamisso named the California Poppy, our state wildflower, after Eschscholtz, which has the Latin binomial Eschscholtzia Californica. In 1819 he became a professor of medicine of the zoological cabinet at the University of Dorpat. In 1823 he accepted an invitation by Kotzebue to sail again on an extensive voyage. In 1829 he died of "nerve fever."

Ludovick Charles Adelaid Chamisso - A French - Born in 1781 in Champaign, France, to a noble family. His family moved to Germany during the French Revolution. He became a page to the royal court in Berlin in 1796.  In 1801 he entered the Prussian Army, did not like military life and started writing. In 1810 he studied science and languages in Paris. He then went back to Berlin to study medicine, botany, and zoology. He was a poet and naturalist.  In 1815 he was invited to serve as a naturalist on the round-the-world voyage on the ship Rurik. He researched languages, ethnography, geology, botany, zoology, and climate on his trip. He ported here at the Ross Colony on this voyage for just a short time. Chamisso named the California Poppy, our state wildflower, after Johann Eschscholtz, his friend and colleague, while on this trip, possibly while here at Fort Ross. He died in 1838.


Balthazar - Possibly a Coast Miwok - This young man was painted by the Russian artist Mikhail Tikhanov. Balthazar was painted with a front view and with a side view.  He was baptized at Mission San Rafael along with his Miwok parents, Catcat and Bohomen. He may have been about 15 years old when the paintings were done. We believe they lived in the Bodega Bay region.

Other Miwok: From the Bodega Bay Area    -  Vekvekun   --     Yovlo

Other Kashaya Pomo: From the vicinity of Ross    --   Chil'lya   ---   Yogokoiy


Miwok: Bodega Bay area



Kashaya Pomo: vicinity of Ross

Chumamin - A Kashaya - Living with Mikhail Siyazov, Russian. When he returned to Sitka in September 1820, she returned to her native place.

Pokomin - A Kashaya - Married to Filip Apangu, a Kodiak. They may have lived on the front terrace in the Alaskan neighborhood. When he returned to Sitka, she returned to her own people.

Mishishiya - A Kashaya - Married to Tupulihkak Sava, a Kodiak. They also lived on the Farallone Islands.

Kashin                 Kavapalii              Akaluchu                 Chubay                 Tykpalii



By the time the long and winding car ride is over (you may want to supply each car with a few plastic bags in case of car sickness emergencies), the students are truly excited. It is a VERY good idea to burn off a bit of that energy before they arrive at the fort itself.

The walk from the Reef Campground to the fort is a wonderful experience. It is a short walk (only about a mile, 15-30 minutes), safe away from the edge of the cliffs, beautiful and a great way to begin the students' historical experience.  It is a wonderful visual experience to see the fort looming ever larger on the coastline as you get closer and closer.

The campground is about ten miles north of Jenner. It is a good idea to plan for a snack when you arrive. When everybody has arrived, all cars will drive to the fort to quickly unload the gear, leaving behind the teacher, children and enough adults to make the walk safely. Note: The campground is closed December 1 through March 31. Please walk around the gate. There is a pay phone at the campground entrance.  You must monitor the students at all times, to avoid misuse of this phone.


Walk downhill through the campground until you get to the parking area/turn-around at the bottom of the road. Look up the hill to the North for the trail to Fort Ross. The trail is marked. Follow the trail to the Sandy Cove; descend to the sand, cross the creek, and up to the fort. Don't rush on the hike. Encourage them to ask questions. Look at the local flora and fauna on the marine terrace and out to the sea for ships or whales. Taking your time to enjoy and learn gives the drivers more time to unload. If the cars are still unloading in front of the fort, then slow your walk or spend some time at the cove.

WARNING:  On very rainy days or on days just after heavy rains, the creek may be impassable. If it has been raining, please call us at the fort a day or so before your program date to ask if it is possible to safely cross the creek.


Drive from the campground a few miles north to the fort entrance. Go past the entrance kiosk (get a parking pass from the kiosk or the Interpretive Specialist at the fort) and drive to the dirt road at the end of the parking lot. Follow this road to the fort itself. The speed limit on this road is 10 mph. Please drive slowly.


Please find the Park Interpretive Specialist inside the Officials' Quarters for instructions. It works best to take personal gear out of the cars and put it just inside the fort wall or if the ground is very damp to pile it up on the benches or the picnic tables inside the fort. If it is raining all the personal gear will go in the Rotchev House for the day. Do not put gear into the buildings in which the children will be sleeping. Personal gear will be moved into sleeping quarters after the fort is closed to the public at 4:30. Food and kitchen gear can be carried to the kitchen area by the fire pits in front of the Officials' Quarters. You will need to unload very quickly to insure that cars are moved and drivers are back at the fort before the children arrive from their walk.  As soon as the vehicles are unloaded, drive your car back to the Visitor Center Parking lot. Cars must remain in the upper parking lot during your visit! The next morning when you are ready to leave Colony Ross, you may bring cars to the front gate of the fort only long enough to load supplies.

For groups who cannot walk from the campground (light rain, heavy mist, creek too high) we request that you let the children off at the end of the parking area with supervision. It is best not to stop at the Visitor Center when you arrive in the morning because it can detract from the historical experience of the fort. Parents drive the cars down to the fort, unload gear, and then drive back to the parking area.  When everyone has reunited, walk to the fort compound together to be greeted by the Interpretive Specialist.  If it is raining hard please drive directly to the Fort and unload gear.

Gardeners' Onsite Task Sheet

Officers: 1.) ________________________ 2.) _________________________

Fort Ross Gardeners:

1.  ______________________________           AKA ______________________

2.  ______________________________           AKA ______________________

3.  ______________________________           AKA ______________________

4.  ______________________________           AKA ______________________

5.  ______________________________           AKA ______________________

6.  ______________________________           AKA ______________________


  1. Take plant starts and seeds and go to the gardener's shed (the smallest shed on the end of the Fort Ross Shop across the field from the West Gate). Inventory tools and carry them to the garden.

  2. Work in garden: prepare garden for planting by weeding, digging and loosening the soil. Add some compost and fertilizer brought from home. Plant plants.  Water existing plantings in the garden.  Harvest any vegetables that are ready and take to the cooks. Warning: Know your edibles when you use the plants from the garden.

  3. Mark the garden plot with the school name. Return all gardening tools to shed. Please make sure the water tap is turned off.

  4. Add plant matter and kitchen waste to the compost pile. Make any necessary repairs to the garden fence but please do not take it down.

  5. Return to the fort to make a basket.

  6. After 4:30, move personal sleeping gear into the back of Kuskov House

  7. Know your Night Watch and morning clean up duties. Prepare a group skit, song or presentation for the evening that will communicate what your group did and experienced.

Rules and Responsibilities:

  1. Follow the Officers' instructions at all times.

  2. Obey all safety rules.

  3. Clean up garden area and tools.  Put tools away.

Night watch:   3:00 AM-5:00 AM.  Wake up Militia in the Southwest Blockhouse.

Morning Responsibilities:  Pack personal gear, parents clean and sweep the back of the Rotchev House and the Chapel.  Remove litter. Take compost to garden.  Help load cars. If your group is finished and another group is not, ask: "What can I do to help?"

Stockade Litter Pick Up – All groups line up shoulder to shoulder and walk the inside of the fort for a full stockade cleanup.

Morning Hike:  Orchard, Cemetery, or Beach Hike.

Basket Weaving

Fort Ross Interpretive Specialist will supply the reeds, cut them and demonstrate basket weaving.

Kashaya Basketry

The Kashaya have lived in this area for thousands of years. Over this time they have developed very fine basketry. In fact, their basketry is considered a fine art today. The Kashaya have taken great care of their world around them. They harvested only what they needed for their baskets, and always left many plants to continue growing. For the baskets they use wooly sedge grass roots, willow branches, bulrush root, redwood bark, and redbud for the weaving. They would use wild walnuts, berries, and the other plant material to color the reed. Baskets were used for cooking, and food preparation, traps for animals and fish, cradles for carrying the babies, toys such as dolls, clothing such as skirts and hats, and for gift giving and ceremonies.

            Basketry is a great way to get a sense of a small part of the life of these people who lived here before us. It gives us time to slow down, and to talk with each other, to enjoy each other's company. You also get the chance to create something with your own hands. This is a joy! Here at Fort Ross we make a simple twined basket. A twined basket is the kind they would use in gathering acorns and other food.

Remember to take your time and work slowly. You will create a beautiful piece of work using your own hands.

Night Watch

Night watch is a unique part of the ELP and it is mandatory.  It becomes a time of reflection. Surrounded by the coastal night and sounds, students can imagine what it must have been like at the fort in the "old days".  An on-site night watch log is available to record any thoughts the students may have while on the night watch. Your students may also bring their own journal to write in at night watch.  Parents must sleep in the same area as their assigned group so they can get the group to watch duty quickly and quietly.

Each group will have three tin candle lanterns.
Each employee will be accompanied by an officer at all night time activities.
Lanterns should be out when the group sleeps.
No lanterns burning without adult supervision inside buildings.
Night Watch Duties:
·        Keep close eye on glass candle lanterns.
·        Keep the fire going - a small fire is all that is necessary.
·        Each employee will have two Russian tea cakes and one cup of cocoa. Keep the teapot filled with water.
·        Write in night watch log.
·        Take a night hike; star gazing (weather permitting).
·        Walk the perimeter of the fort as a group.
·        Quietly play checkers, staves or cards to pass the time.
·        Clean up your mess when your watch is over.
·        Wake the next group as quietly and quickly as possible.
·        Notify the teacher in case of any kind of problem.
Night Watch Reminders:
·        Block the privy doors with a piece of wood to prevent them from slamming.
·        Students are not to play with candles or candle wax.
·        At no time should students wander off alone.
·        The First Aid Kit will be kept at the kitchen area.  Emergency phone is in Interpretive Specialist's office.
Night Watch Schedule and Sleeping Arrangements:
Night watch is important for the safety of the fort and the group. The following schedule is for an all-Night Watch.  The sleeping arrangements described work well for waking one watch group while not disturbing others. Militia serves the fifth night watch to start fires for cooks.
First watch:                           9:00 -  11:00         Cooks              sleep in the Kuskov House
Second watch:                     11:00 -   1:00         Artisans:          sleep in front of Rotchev House
Third watch:                           1:00 -   3:00         Hunters:          sleep in Northwest Blockhouse
Fourth watch:                       3:00 -   5:00         Gardeners:    sleep in the back of Kuskov House
Fifth watch                             5:00 -   7:00         Militia:              sleep in Southeast Blockhouse
Wake-up for breakfast           7:00 -                   Cooks:             sleep in the Kuskov House

Buildings -Personal gear removed, floors swept, candle wax scraped off, mud/dirt swept out, litter picked up. 

Empty Compost Bucket - The compost should be emptied in the evening after dinner and again after the final breakfast clean up.

Putting Things Away - All of the items we provide for the ELP must be put back into the ELP storage closet by the group. 

Broken Items  - Please let the Interpretive Specialist know if anything is broken so we may be able to replace it before the next ELP group arrives.