Howell Living History Farm shows ag from 1890s to 1910s
LAMBERTVILLE — People who want to experience farming from a bygone era are able to do so at the Howell Living History Farm. Located in Mercer County’s Hopewell Township, the farm focuses on showcasing agricultural activities from 1890 to 1910.
The farm is operated by the Mercer County Park Commission.
“Howell Farm was a working farm for 240 years before its last private owner, Inez Howe Howell of Pennington, donated it to Mercer County in March of 1974,” according to the commission. “Having grown up on a farm, she wanted others to experience the magic she had always found there.
“Between 1975 and 1984, the farm was prepared by the Mercer County Park Commission, assisted by volunteers who later organized as the Friends of Howell Farm, for opening to the public as a living history farm.”
The general public was welcomed to the farm starting in 1984. The farm is listed on both the New Jersey State Register of Historic Places as well as the National Register of Historic Places.
Through the years, additional nearby land was acquired by Mercer County to form the Pleasant Valley Historical Park. The farm includes 126 acres of this 267-acre historical park.
Visitors are able to participate and watch agricultural activities common to New Jersey at the turn of the last century.
“We grow corn, oats, and wheat at the Howell Living History Farm,” said Kevin Watson, assistant director of the Howell Living History Farm. “We rotate these crops on our land. In addition, we use clover and timothy hay as cover in the fields.”
Watson added the farm also includes a number of animals, including seven horses, 20 or so sheep, one cow and one steer.
During the COVID-19 Pandemic, the farm expanded its civic efforts, providing a variety of food products to two regional programs that help food insecure people, Watson said. Items donated from the farm through its Share the Harvest Program include potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, kale, collard greens and cabbage. The farm also added an extra flock of chickens to increase egg production and utilize space opened up for more education.
The farm has events throughout most of the year. The farm is typically open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays; the farm is closed for a short time during the winter. According to a statement from the farm, its events are designed to allow “visitors to see real farming operations up close, speak with farmers and interpreters, and in many instances lend a hand. Factors such as weather, soil conditions, and animal needs can impact operations at any time, resulting in program changes that reflect the realities faced by farmers then and now.”
During the school year, there are educational programs available specifically designed for school children, teachers, and parents. These programs include ones focused on farm animals, maple sugaring, corn planting and sheep shearing.
Beyond these specific educational programs, admission is free to the general public.
On Saturday, Sept.17 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. the farm will host its Fall Plowing & Manure Spreading event. Designed to take place during winter wheat planting. Farm employees and volunteers fill the farm’s ‘New Idea’ spreader with old bedding, corn cobs, and manure, then follow the farmer and horses out to the field and watch as they spread it over the ground.
“Once the soil is ready, [visitors will be able to] help with the next step and turn over the earth with a moldboard plow pulled by another team of horses,” the farm said in a statement. “Farmers will be there to drive the team and teach [visitors] how to turn a perfect furrow.”