Howell Living History Farm’s wheat program introduces students to the many facets of growing and utilizing wheat, one of the most important cereal crops in the world. Howell Farm’s living history approach draws students back to a time period when the principles of cultivating food were familiar to most people in America. During the winter-wheat planting season, Howell Farm welcomes school groups to help plant and process its wheat crops and to discover how farmers use horses and circa 1900 machinery to operate this living history farm.
Wheat Planting & Shocking: Find out how farmers in Pleasant Valley once grew wheat by visiting a field where circa 1900 equipment is used to prepare soil for planting. At this station, students will plant seed by hand and learn about the weather and soil conditions needed for germination. After interpreters explain how the crop matures and is harvested, students will shock sheaves (bundles) of wheat and see how this important drying method set the stage for threshing.
Wheat Threshing: Join a traditional threshing bee where everyone is expected to help take harvested wheat and collect the seeds by using one of the earliest threshing tools called a flail. Interpreters will give each child the opportunity to thresh a stem of wheat, allowing the students to handle a stem of wheat, remove the straw and separate the wheat from the chaff.
Wheat Cleaning: Turn the crank of a winnower (also called a fanning mill) as farm interpreters explain the principles of mechanical wheat cleaning to process the wheat into a highly nutritious food. Once the wheat is clean, each student will have a chance to use a hand-cranked grinder to mill the wheat for use as animal feed or flour.
Bread Baking & Tasting: Visit a circa 1900 kitchen to realize wheat’s importance and to taste whole wheat bread made from Howell Farm’s flour. Everyone will take turns churning butter and sifting flour as farm staff demonstrate baking bread in the farm’s 1904 Glenwood cookstove.