The Gift of Shaker Village

Shannon Timmons, Annual Passholder Program Coordinator

As we enter the month of November, many of us turn our thoughts to Thanksgiving, and what we are grateful for from the past year. At Shaker Village we have many things to be grateful for, and the support of our 3,300 Annual Passholders is at the top of the list.

Annual Pass fees support 3,000 acres of discovery, new programs and educational opportunities for our guests. Pass fees also go towards the preservation and maintenance of our pristine grounds which includes 37 miles of walking and riding trails, and 34 original 19th Century buildings.

Discovery starts here at Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill.

The Annual Pass Program has incredible value! We have three different passes and a variety of ways to customize them to fit your needs. The Village Pass, Equestrian Pass and Photography Pass all include tremendous benefits:

  • Unlimited free admission to The Historic Centre, The Farm and The Preserve.
  • Unlimited free hayrides and non-motorized boat launches from Shaker Landing (seasonal).
  • Free admission to signature events like our Easter Egg Hunt, Trick-or-Treat, Harvest Fest, Vintage Dads Day and Craft Fair.
  • 10% discount on overnight rooms in The Inn.
  • 10% discount on meals at The Trustees’ Table.
  • 10% discount on purchases at The Shops.
  • Additional passholder-only discounts several times a year across the Village.
  • Discounts on Discovery Treks and Workshops.
  • Insider emails and exclusive promotions.

The Village Pass is designed for singles, couples, and families who enjoy strolling the trails, picnics at the pond, exploring the history of our original Shaker structures, or just simply soaking in the peace and tranquility of the property.

The Village Pass allows individuals, couples and families to experience the best of the Village.

The Equestrian Pass is prefect for equine aficionados who bring their horses and explore our 30 miles of riding trails. This pass also includes free stall use and two complementary admission passes to The Historic Centre to share with family and friends.

Horse lovers will enjoy spending time out on the trails.

If you are a photographer, the Photography Pass is for you! Your clients receive free admission to the property during their photo session, and you won’t find a more beautiful location in Central Kentucky for outdoor photo shoots.

Professional photographers can capture their clients in the beauty of Shaker Village every season.

Not only is an annual pass a wonderful gift for yourself, it makes the perfect gift for the holidays. Giving the beauty, history and hospitality of Shaker Village is a unique way to treat your loved ones. So, as we approach the season of giving and of thanksgiving, we say THANK YOU to our annual passholder supporters. For those of you who are interested in joining our passholder family, please visit our website for more information and to sign up.

If you’d like to give the gift of an annual pass, or have any questions about the program, please contact Shannon Timmons, Annual Passholder Program Coordinator at, or 859.734.1553.

A Look Inside Little English’s Fall Photoshoot

A few months ago, Shaker Village hosted Little English, a female-led Lexington, Ky. based children’s clothing line, for their fall collection photoshoot. The Village was a perfect fit for the countryside chic vibe they were looking to capture. We enjoyed having them so much that we invited them to be a guest blogger this month. Read on for a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the shoot and visit to shop the collection, and receive 10% off through October 31, 2022 by using code: SHAKERVILLAGE10 at checkout.

Guest Blogger Siobhan O’Neill, Little English Affiliate Marketing Specialist

Established in 1805, Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill was once the third largest Shaker community in the US. This landmark destination includes 3,000 acres of discovery in the spirit of the Kentucky Shakers and is home to the country’s largest private collection of original 19th century buildings. Shaker Village’s rich history, beautiful countryside, and proud roots were a few reasons Little English decided to host our fall 2022 photoshoot at this destination, just outside of Lexington, in Harrodsburg, KY.

The Charlotte & Davant Bubbles in Gray Blue Gingham & Classic Cashmere Blend Cardigan in Navy.

Like Shaker Village, Little English values tradition. Shaker Village’s mission is to inspire generations through discovery, by sharing the legacies of the Kentucky Shakers. Similarly, Little English works to preserve tradition in clothing by curating classic and high-quality children’s clothing that celebrates childhood. The emphasis Shaker Village places on nature preservation, history, and tradition made it an easy location choice for Little English.

Corduroy is trending for fall. Shop these styles in the Little English Fall Catalog.

One of the historically significant and well-preserved landmarks of Shaker Village are the dry-stack stone fences that can be seen when you first drive onto the property. Pleasant Hill once had more than 40 miles of dry-stack stone fences. Today, they repair and maintain 25 miles of these fences famous to the Bluegrass. Like most of the stone fences in the Bluegrass region, the ones that surround Pleasant Hill were built by Irish and African-American stone masons (learn more about their history here). Little English featured these stone fences in our photoshoot because of their beautiful and unique texture and historical significance to Kentucky.

The Scale House Wagon is loaded up for a fun fall day. Shop the looks here.

The display wagon, used in Little English’s photoshoot, is housed in the Scale House. Built in 1875, the Scale House was used as a weigh station for heavy loads of cargo used by the Shakers. The wagon you see today is a reproduction of the Pennebaker Brother’s original wagon used to haul coal, brick, and other supplies on the property.

A cozy morning on the West Family Dwelling porch in Gingerbread Cookie Printed Jammies.

Utilized as a location for retreats, meetings and reunions today, the West Lot Dwelling was once a gathering house for apprentice members of the Shaker community. In the late 19th century, it became a home for Swedish immigrants and later turned into the Pennebaker Home for Girls. Little English did the majority of our shooting in and around the West Lot Dwelling because of the beautiful interiors, grand porches, and lush outdoor areas.

Little English was so grateful for the opportunity to partner with Shaker Village on our fall 2022 photoshoot. The 3,000 acres of rolling hills and 19th century buildings provided endless shooting opportunities to capture Shaker Village’s beauty and highlight the mood and inspiration behind our fall collection.

Fall is a great time to discover all that Shaker Village has to offer with special events, daily tours, a seed-to-table restaurant and overnight stays at the historic Inn. To learn more or to plan your getaway to Shaker Village visit

Chef Amber Hokams Returns to Our Table

Shelby Jones, Director of Communications

Fall has officially arrived at Shaker Village and we’re celebrating with a full lineup of seasonal events and a fresh start at our seed-to-table restaurant, The Trustees’ Table.  Dining at Shaker Village is a tradition dear to the hearts of thousands of guests who pull up a chair at our table every year. We have another reason to celebrate with Chef Amber Hokams’ return to the Village!

We caught up with Chef Hokams to get her take on The Trustees’ Table’s next chapter and to get to know her a bit better. Read on for our Q&A, and for some recipes she shared from our current menu that you can make at home.

The Trustees' Table Chef Amber Hokams
Chef Amber Hokams trained at Le Cordon Bleu Austin.

Get to Know Chef Hokams

The Trustees’ Table uses produce from the certified-organic Shaker Garden, as well as locally sourced meats, cheeses and other ingredients. Why is that important, and how do you work with the Village’s Farm Team to determine what gets incorporated into the garden plan?

The obvious reason is that we want to support our neighbors. I enjoy building relationships with local farmers because they too are in this industry because of passion.

Every winter I have a planning meeting with our Farm Manager Michael Moore to discuss a planting schedule. He is someone who shares my passion for ethical farming and growing the freshest produce possible. We use this time to discuss new projects, ideas, events in our Fresh Food Adventure series and seasonal menu plans for the year.

What are the quintessential dishes you will always find on The Trustees’ Table menu?

 FRIED CHICKEN, Shaker Lemon Pie and Tomato Celery Soup!

What’s your personal take on “southern cooking?”

Southern cuisine is comfort on a plate. I am a firm believer that you can taste the love in a dish. Just as the pimento cheese here at the Village always tastes better when Miss Sue makes it. Taking simple food to the next level is all in the details.

The Fresh Food Adventure series is your chance to really show off as a chef. How do you find inspiration for these events?

I start by opening Google Maps and pinpointing certain areas to explore. I enjoy spending my free time researching new cuisines for our themed dinners throughout the year.

Who is your culinary inspiration?

My Nana has always been my inspiration. She lives to feed the people around her, and she admits that cooking is her love language. When we vacation together we sit down early on and map out our meals for the week. We turn on our favorite music and dance while we cook. And, it needs to be said that my Nana is a great dancer, but I have two left feet!

If you could only eat one dish for the rest of your life what would it be?

When it comes to feeding myself, I keep it really simple. A 16 oz ribeye, charred on the grill and a side of watermelon has been my go-to meal lately. However, I also eat a ton of tacos at my house. Tacos al Pastor to be specific with fresh corn tortillas, marinated pork shoulder, pickled onions, cilantro, goat cheese, lots of grilled pineapple and green habanero salsa is a meal I have eaten a hundred times.

Can you give us a sneak peak of anything coming to the new menu at The Trustees’ Table?

Back by popular demand, our guests have requested that a pork chop be included on our menu. I am currently testing out my version of sweet potato casserole and an apricot chutney to accompany the chop. Stay tuned!

Recipes to Share

Chef Hokams is sharing her recipes for two of her secret sauces! Try your hand at them at home and share your results by tagging #ShakerVillageKY on social media.

Shrimp and Grits with Poblano White Wine Cream
The Poblano White Wine Cream is featured in the Shrimp and Grits entrée on the dinner menu at The Trustees’ Table.

Poblano White Wine Cream

¼ c Sunflower Oil
1 c Onion, medium diced
¼ c Smoked Poblano, skins removed and small dice
2 T Garlic, minced
½ c Roasted Red Peppers
3 c Sauvignon Blanc
1 qt Heavy Cream
2 t  Salt
1 c Mexican Chorizo, cooked (homemade or your favorite brand)

Sauté onion until translucent. Add garlic and pepper, sauté for 30 seconds. Deglaze with wine, reduce to au sec. Add cream and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove from heat, add salt and chorizo.

Serve over grilled parmesan grit cakes, wilted greens and sautéed wild caught shrimp.

Watermelon Salad with Honey Citrus Vinaigrette
Take a final bite of summer with the Honey Citrus Vinaigrette that tops the Watermelon Salad on the lunch and dinner menus.

Honey Citrus Vinaigrette

1 c Sunflower oil
¼ c Champagne Vinegar
1 Orange, zested
2 T Fresh Orange Juice
2 T Fresh Lemon Juice
1 T c Honey
2 t Dijon
1 t Kosher Salt

Toss arugula (or greens of your choice) with 2 oz of Honey Citrus Vinaigrette. Top with shaved red onion, diced watermelon, fresh banana pepper and crumbled goat cheese.

Join us for breakfast, lunch or dinner at The Trustees’ Table seven days a week by making an online reservation or calling 859.734.5411.

The Tool that Empowers: Shaker Literacy

Maggie McAdams, Education and Engagement Manager & Laura Webb, Program Team Coordinator

The Shakers, as a religious communal society, were dedicated to creating their own version of heaven-on-earth. They were an egalitarian society, practicing gender equality in their leadership structure and in their access to resources, and placed an emphasis on the betterment of community members to be beings worthy of the heavenly sphere. However, education— and more specifically literacy — was not always a top priority for this society.

Shaker school children gathered in front of the East Family Brethren’s Shop, late 19th century.

From its earliest days, the Shaker faith was passed on and expressed as an oral tradition. Driven in part by the fact that Mother Ann Lee was illiterate, the Shakers were content to carry on their faith through spoken word and other expression. However, after Mother Ann passed away in 1784, just 10 years after bringing the faith to America, this changed drastically. With the charismatic leader gone, her followers, worried about what was to be lost, started to codify the faith by writing everything down and disseminating the information to the various Shaker communities. As part of these efforts, Joseph Meacham, a Shaker Leader in New Lebanon, NY, wrote down his views on education in the 1790s, claiming:

“Some are Created and Called to be more useful in things spiritual others in things temporal – […] but to Prepare them to be useful in the improvement of the talents which God hath given […] it would not be prudent for them to labour to make any great distinction in relation to their abilities and Callings…”

In this, Meacham is advocating for education for all to prepare them to be an informed and active citizenry. He is making the argument that education is a tool that empowers individuals to become productive members of the society.

By 1808, a school was established for the children at New Lebanon that focused primarily on spelling and language, and by 1832, the Shakers selected a superintendent to oversee all Shaker community schools. This new superintendent began to set standards for education in Shaker communities, and though there was always variation within individual communities, they began to establish a formal curriculum. Throughout the nineteenth century the curriculum was expanded from just reading and writing to include instruction in astronomy, algebra, music, and chemistry, among many other subjects. In the late nineteenth century, the Canterbury Shaker community produced a list referred to as the Classification of Classics for grades one through eight. Familiar titles such as Merchant of Venice and King Arthur were mixed in with books like From Wool to Cloth and The Story of Wheat. With this full list of reading material, it appears that the value and diverse nature of Shaker education came a long way over the course of the nineteenth century.

While education focused mainly on children in Shaker communities with the Children’s Orders, often called School Families, acting as school houses, all individuals were taught the fundamental skills of reading and writing upon joining.

Evidence of the importance they placed on education and literacy can be found throughout the Shaker’s written record. The sheer volume of journals and letters speak to their impressive mastery of the written word. Both men and women were called upon to keep journals for the various families.  In this excerpt from the East Family Deaconess’s Journal, written during the Civil War on October 11 and 12, 1862, you can see this mastery for yourself:

“Such as day as this has never been witnessed on Pleasant Hill before and God grant that it never may again…How awful to think of a wicked and bloody battle occurring in the midst of Zion on earth! Whoever would have thought that this secluded and sacred spot of truly Pleasant Hill, would ever have been surrounded by the embattled legions within hearing distance in almost every direction from this central point and the waring hosts traversing our streets and premises to and fro day and night with their weapons of death, guns, swords, and bayonets gleaming in the sun…Where the clash of arms and din of war proclaims the raging thirst for blood, power and glory, that fills the ambitious human (Alias inhuman) breast! And yet that we should have escaped with comparatively so little damage clearly implies, that whatever of evil may be among us (and God knows there is enough,) there is still a spark of light, a remnant of faith, and a seed of truth, and a righteous few in the heritage of God which he holds in the bottom of his hand…”

The title page of one of the many surviving Pleasant Hill journals, the East Family Deaconess’s Journal, 1843-1871. Volume 4, Shaker Collection, Filson Historical Society.

As an organization, and as scholars, we are lucky that so many Shaker journals were preserved for us to reference today, and so grateful that the Shakers placed such importance on education! Visit Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill to learn more about Shaker education in our Back to School: Shaker Children’s Orders daily program.

Monarch Migration

Laura Baird, Stewardship Manager

The monarch butterfly is one of the most celebrated insect species in North America and a flagship species for grassland conservation. Like many insects, monarchs have suffered steep declines in recent decades due to habitat loss. This is further complicated when considering monarch habitats stretch from southern Canada to central Mexico. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) formally declared monarchs to be an endangered species in late July. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, nearly one billion Monarchs have been lost in overwatering sites in Mexico since 1990!

Each February, monarchs emerge from their overwintering grounds high in the forests of central Mexico and fly north, mating and laying eggs on milkweed as they go. Several generations of monarchs go through their life cycle while repopulating most of the United States and the southern portions of Canada.

Monarch Life Cycle

  1. Eggs hatch in about four days.
  2. Caterpillars emerge and eat milkweed for two weeks.
  3. Caterpillars transform into a chrysalis and hang for ten days.
  4. An adult monarch butterfly emerges, feasts on nectar and looks for a mate for two to six weeks.
Monarch caterpillar capture in the Shaker Village Preserve.

The Next Generation
The monarchs we’re currently seeing are considered the fourth generation of the year, and their lives are a bit different from the previous three generations. This generation, born in September and October, are currently migrating south, back to the Oyamel Fir forests of central Mexico. The monarchs born here at Shaker Village travel over 1,500 miles to join millions of other monarchs from across North America, where they will then rest together for six to eight months before flying north and restarting the process next year.

Here in the United States, modern agricultural practices and development has led to a loss of both milkweed, the only food source of monarch caterpillars, and fall wildflowers, which adults need to fuel their journey south at this time. Their overwintering grounds in Mexico have also been impacted by expanding agriculture. Climate change has also threatened the species, creating more frequent droughts, floods, and intense storm events that threaten the plants monarchs rely on throughout their range.

Research is Key
A number of nonprofits are doing their part to protect monarchs and collect more data to learn about their complex lives and migratory patterns. One of the largest monarch-specific nonprofits is Monarch Watch at the University of Kansas. They run the Monarch Waystation program, dedicated to increasing monarch habitat in the United States, whether it be on a large scale (the entirety of Shaker Village’s prairies are registered as a Monarch Waystation!) or in your own backyard (you can visit our small demonstration Monarch Waystation beside the Meeting House). 

Monarch Watch has also run a monarch tagging program since 1992. The tags are small stickers applied to a hindwing. When tags are recovered (usually after the insect’s natural death), the code on that tag identifies the butterfly and where it came from. The monarch tagging program is providing data to answer several key questions about the timing of migration and mortality ratios regarding size and origin of the butterflies. Recovering tags is difficult and rare, but a butterfly tagged in The Preserve at Shaker Village in 2015 was recovered the next year in El Rosario, Mexico the next year! We continue to tag monarchs in cooperation with Monarch Watch each year in hopes our efforts can contribute to the overall success and hopeful resurgence of these regal butterflies. 

How to Help
If you’d like to help then we encourage you to join our Monarch Butterfly Tagging workshop at the Village on October 1. We’ll take an easy hike through The Preserve and learn how its wildflowers serve as an important habitat for butterflies and other essential pollinators, then help tag monarchs to track and monitor their annual migration.