Wheat Treading at the 16-Sided Barn
See how Washington used his remarkable 16-sided barn at Mount Vernon
Located on the banks of the Potomac, the four-acre Pioneer Farm site explores George Washington’s role as a visionary farmer.
The Pioneer Farm represents the more than 3,000 acres Washington cultivated during the second half of the 18th century. It also offers visitors a chance to learn more about the lives of the enslaved workers who put Washington’s agrarian ideas into practice.
Watch costumed interpreters demonstrate Washington's innovative farming and fishing practices, hoe fields, cook over a fire, sheer sheep, and harvest crops (activities vary day to day). Explore a replica slave cabin and Washington's 16-sided treading barn. Stroll along the Wharf for a view across the Potomac River.
Washington expected his workforce to get as much done as possible every day, which could mean 14-hour days in the summer. He wrote in 1789, "Every Labourer (male or female) does as much in the 24 hours as their strength without endangering the health, or constitution will allow of."
While at the Pioneer Farm, you can visit this replica cabin that depicts how many enslaved families lived at Mount Vernon.
The 16-sided treading barn is George Washington’s very own invention and is used for processing wheat.
The reconstruction of Washington's barn was based on extensive documentation, including Washington's own design drawings and 19th-century photographic evidence.
The Pioneer Farm is a smaller representation of Washington’s approach to farming in the 18th century.