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WFMZ: One Tank Trip: Burnside Plantation

September 7th, 2016 |

Written by Karin Mallett for WFMZ

James Burnside was a member of the Moravian Church who came to Bethlehem by way of Ireland and founded Burnside Plantation with his wife, Mary, in 1748.

Even though he was a missionary, he wanted his own farm, so instead of living inside the Moravian community, he decided to live right next to it.

You’ll still find the home and farm down a little lane off Schoenersville Road.

“This is the six-and-a-half-acre jewel in the heart of the Lehigh Valley,” said Charlene Donchez Mowers, president, Historic Bethlehem Partnership.

It was only 500 acres when James bought it. His home was a standout, and so was he. James was the first representative to the general assembly in Philadelphia, but in Bethlehem, the focus was on farming.

“He farmed all sorts of things, corn, various grains, oats,” Mowers said.

And apples. When Burnside Plantation became a historic site in the 1980s, the orchard was replanted. There are four kinds of apples grown there today.


“Our apples are in fact edible. They can see what an apple right off the tree looks like and taste like as opposed to one they got from the grocery store,” explained Mary Mulder, special events manager.

Map: Burnside Plantation

Roxbury russet is one of the varieties. Newton Pippin is another. It was a favorite of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. Also, Spitzenberg and Rhode Island Greening. Some were meant to eat fresh and some were better for baking, but all were a part of the farm and its history.

Next to the orchard are the gardens. There are two. One is a volunteer-led community garden.

“And then we also have a pollinator garden that master gardeners tend to attract the bees,” Mulder said.

The bees keep the rest growing.

“The natural beauty is just incredible, no matter what season. It’s like being in another time and place, even though you are five minutes from the 21st century,” Mulder shared.

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