DescriptionIn 1843, Luke Gannon and his family, immigrants from Ireland, built a log cabin in what is now Crystal Lake, Illinois. The restored cabin was moved to Union, Illinois in 1966 on the grounds of the McHenry County Historical Society. Two years ago, in 2015, the Historical Society asked the University of Illinois Extension Master Gardeners of McHenry to restore the small kitchen garden in front of the Gannon cabin. The area was so overgrown essentially it did not exist except for weeds, oregano, two roses and an apple tree. However, the goal was to create a typical kitchen garden, focusing on those vegetables, herbs and a few perennial ornamentals that an Irish family would need in their kitchen and home, using as many native plants as possible. By the second year, the garden produced approximately fifty pounds of vegetables which were donated to the Crystal Lake Food Pantry. The ornamentals also took root and began to spread. By the end of the third year, 2017, the garden and workload was firmly established, with the focus of the work now concentrated on the annual planting and harvesting of the vegetables and herbs.
Log cabins were never meant to be permanent structures since most were destroyed after a permanent house was built, usually in the second year. Fortunately, the Gannon cabin was saved and today, in combination with the kitchen garden, offers a good look at the life of an ordinary midwestern immigrant family of the mid-1800s.