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Harvest Days Previews the Future of the Past at Garfield Farm Museum

CAMPTON HILLS-  On Sunday, October 7th from 11:30 am-4 pm, the future of Garfield Farm Museumís appearance will be previewed with the in progress restoration of the 1906 dairy barn and 1913 silo. Visitors will also step back in time and discover life before modern technology at Garfield Farm Museumís 37th annual Harvest Days.

    The demonstrations of 1840s household and farm skills at Harvest Days stimulate the minds of the young and the old. With the advent of the 37th annual Harvests Days, it is now clear that many classic American images are otherworldly and alien to the younger generations. Where many of the Baby Boom generation still had some connection to farming through a relative or friend, they also explored the great outdoors be it weedy vacant city lot or the broad fields of outlying suburbia. Todayís young generation is disconnected from the source of their food. The outdoors is no longer a wide-open playground for the imagination but a space for highly structured scheduled activities. Most Baby Boomers knew Independence Day was the reason for fireworks whereas most youth see July Fourth first as a summer celebration. Instilling a knowledge and deep-seated understanding of Americaís heritage of freedoms is being neglected.

    Schools are limited in funds for field trips and thus parents must take up the slack to expose their children and their playmates to the classroom beyond school walls. As Garfield Farm Museumís three themes are history, farming and nature, a visit covers these three topics and demonstrates civic involvement as the volunteers spend their personal time to show the children and adults the realities of Americaís past.

   The historic activities portrayed at Harvest Days show the hard work of the settlers but that did not slow them from creating and sustaining the freedoms that are enjoyed today. Hand flailing and winnowing of the wheat to boiling down animal fats for tallow candles, cooking lard, and lye soap demonstrate how what today is most mundane once took great effort. Where many homes today provide private bedrooms for each member of the family, the inn, comparable to a 4-bedroom home today, would house upwards of 50 people plus the Garfield family of 8 on a busy night.

    A once in a lifetime experience, seeing a barn under restoration, gives a great appreciation for craftsmanship that is rare today. The 1906 dairy barn also hints at the engineered building era of today as structurally it consists of a wooden truss system and iron tie rods to suspend the hayloft floor, creating open span first floor.  Trillium Dell Timberworks of Knoxville, IL started work in January and is now siding the barn and adding the trim. The 1913 concrete silo was preserved this summer with the help of Wisconsin Silo Inc.  The generosity of the Hamill Family Foundation is making this major project possible.

    Tours of the 1846 brick inn will be ongoing. Tavern tours often spark conversations between grandparent and child as grandparents recall their childhood visits to family farms. Children will delight in seeing the museumís farm animals. These include mostly rare heritage breeds of chickens, turkeys, sheep, hogs, and oxen. Tours of the museumís prairie reconnect visitors to nature and its resilience, as the last prairie flowers bloom and go to seed.

    A bake sale will be held and refreshments offered in the visitorsí center, the 1840s Atwell Burr House. Donations for Harvest Days are $6 for adults and $3 for children under twelve and under.

    Garfield Farm Museum is the only historically intact former 1840s Illinois prairie farmstead and teamster inn being restored by donors and volunteers as an 1840s working farm museum. Garfield Farm Museum is located 5 miles west of Geneva, IL off ILL Rt.38 on Garfield Road. For information, call (630) 584-8485 or email