…that the Shakers of Enfield first packaged seeds in small packets, a method still used today.
The term “Shaker” is short for “Shaking Quaker,” a phrase that referred to the shaking movements that followers of the United Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Coming exhibited during worship. In time, the Shakers adopted the name for themselves. In the late 18th century, Shaker leader Mother Ann, her husband, and seven others left England for the Colonies. On a trip through New England, Mother Ann and her followers held services in Enfield, and after her death, Joseph Meacham of Enfield became the first American-born head of the Shakers. He organized a large settlement divided into groups called families. Each of the five organized families had 40 or more members and lived on almost 3,000 acres. By the 19th century, Enfield Shakers produced goods for themselves and to trade with the outside world. Shaker-grown garden seeds, one of their best and most successful endeavors, were sold throughout the US. To facilitate sales, the Shakers packaged seeds in small packets or sold them by weight and measure for wholesale use. The packets, however, which were an Enfield Shaker innovation, defined the garden-seed business and are still used today.