Editor's Letter is an introduction to the contents and themes of each issue of Pennsylvania Heritage by the editor.

Editing every edition of Pennsylvania Heritage is exciting to me because with each new issue, I learn more about our storied past. The spring editions, however, are even more intellectually invigorating because we devote the major features and most of the regular departments to our annual theme. In this issue we explore the Commonwealth’s beauty and bounty as we underscore “The Land of Penn and Plenty: Bringing History to the Table,” the annual theme adopted by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC) for 2012. This issue is made even more special because we introduce Jim Vaughan, PHMC’s new executive director, who shares his vision for the preservation of the Keystone State’s heritage and culture in an interview.

It’s a pleasure to welcome back to Pennsylvania Heritage two outstanding writers – each of whom has a number of books and articles to his credit – who have become friends over the years and from whom I have learned much, Irwin Richman and Brian Butko.

In his article, “Saving Seeds, Sowing for the Future,” Irwin offers an insider’s look at the nationally acclaimed Heirloom Seed Project established by PHMC’s Landis Valley Village and Farm Museum in Lancaster and offers a succinct “how to” for preserving seeds. Brian recounts the story of H. J. Heinz and his company that has provided foodstuffs – especially its iconic ketchup, pickles, and baked beans – for nearly a century and a half in “Heinz – More than 57 Varieties.”

We welcome Doug Wolfgang and Stephanie Zimmerman of the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture who highlight the Pennsylvania Century and Bicentennial Farms programs for readers in “Stewards of the Land.” It’s hard to believe in this day of transiency and flipping property, that the Keystone State claims a goodly number of farms owned by the same families for one hundred and two hundred years. That’s a testament to the value of tradition, as well as perseverance.

As we celebrate “The Land of Penn and Plenty,” I hope you’ll take the opportunity to visit our historic sites and museums along PHMC’s Pennsylvania Trails of History, many of which are presenting special theme-related events and activities. American Heritage Chocolate, the historic division of Mars Inc., is partnering with Washington Crossing Historic Park, Bucks County, and the Friends of Washington Crossing Park to explore the manufacture and use of chocolate in colonial America.

On Saturday, June 16 [2012], from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Rodney Snyder of American Heritage Chocolate will share his knowledge of chocolate history with visitors, demonstrate the eighteenth-century process of turning cacao beans into chocolate, and train food historians in the technique. Visitors will be able to sample the type of chocolate drink enjoyed by George Washington, compliments of Mars Inc., and historically accurate chocolate will be available for purchase in the historic site’s gift shop. (Washington ordered chocolate throughout his lifetime – in quantities as little as one pound and as large as fifty pounds at a time.) The park will conduct two open hearth cooking workshops this fall to highlight the use of chocolate in eighteenth-century recipes. To learn more about these deliciously decadent events, visit the Washington Crossing Historic Park website or telephone (215) 493-4076.

Michael J. O’Malley III