Harvest the Oliver Kelley Farm, Elk River

By Explore Minnesota

Oliver Kelley Farm

The Oliver Kelley Farm, now a state historic site, is a monument to its namesake, who staked his claim here in 1850 and then taught himself the latest farming techniques, largely from agricultural journals. Today, the Kelley Farm is a living history museum, where staff dressed in period clothing perform the daily farm activities typical of the 1800s in the fields, barnyard and farm home. This site northwest of Minneapolis keeps alive Minnesota's farming roots and is a great way to experience what life on traditional farms was like.

In autumn, the excitement and anticipation of the harvest overtake the farm. Visitors to the site can learn for themselves what farming was like when all the work was done by hand.

No matter what age, wannabe farmers can sometimes work the garden, pet and tend animals, pump water from a well, help steer a plow pulled by Percheron draft horses, or take a horse-drawn wagon ride. In the farmhouse, you can help churn butter and catch the aromas wafting from vittles simmering on the woodstove.

The Threshing Festival in September demonstrates how harvesting the grain was always a milestone on the farm, signifying the culmination of a long, hard growing season. Visitors can help bring the grain in from the fields, and watch the team of oxen at work.

Prairie Sugar weekend in late September allows visitors to help strip leaves from sorghum canes. The leaves are then sent through a horse-powered press to extract juice, which is stirred and boiled down to make sweet molasses.

Check the website for additional programs throughout the fall.

The Oliver Kelley Farm is open Memorial Day through Labor Day.