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    Rediscover Thrift That Made America at Garfield Farm Museum's Harvest Days

     Making do and prospering are traditional values that are reflected at Garfield Farm Museum's Harvest Days on Sunday October 5 from 11:30 am
- 4 pm. As the economic lifestyle of America is changing, now is the time to teach children the traditional values of thrift and saving for tomorrow.
 Harvest Days at Garfield Farm Museum demonstrates the basic concepts of conserving one's resources to prepare for the future.
     Harvest Days features historic household and farm skill demonstrations reflecting the economic reality of 1840s Illinois. Hard work and success
went hand in hand and the flailing and winnowing of wheat is just such an example. This demonstration is just one part of the entire process of making
a living on an 1840s Illinois farm. Wheat was the main cash crop and to prepare it for market, the kernels had to be knocked from the stalks, separated
from the leaves or chaff before it could be bagged and sent to the grist mill or to the Chicago Port. Visitors to Harvest Days can try their hand
at striking a stack of wheat with a flail, an attached stick and club, and discover how much work it took to produce enough flour for just one loaf
of bread.
     Pigs were raised for their meat and for their fat. What wasn't made into a cut of meat could be ground for sausage. Every bit of the pig would
be used leaving little for waste. The fat would be boiled down or rendered to produce lard for cooking and preserving foods. The fat could also be
further refined to make soap. At Harvest Days, beef kidney fat, preferred for candles, will be boiled, washed, and boiled again which visitors may
then dip wicks to make tallow candles. In a time when there was an actual shortage of coins for money, making what one needed was preferred to spending ones hard, cold cash.
     The importance of credit which modern day America depends, is reflected in the tours of the 1846 brick tavern. Although a local farmer might sign
a note promising to pay for store goods bought when his fall crops were sold, anyone staying at the inn had to pay cash.  Children learn a quick
lesson about inflation when told a night's lodging cost 37 ½ cents but a worker might only make 50 cents a day.
     Vegetables and fruits that would last through the winter were especially critical. The farm's garden with squashes, carrots, turnips and potatoes
that could be stored in root cellars, beans that would dry well, or apples that could be preserved in several ways would help stretch the family income.
Apples could be enjoyed as fresh cider which then allowed to ferment as hard cider could be stored indefinitely. Letting the cider further turn
made vinegar which was important for pickling foods and cooking.  Some apples stored away would be ready for eating in late winter and others would dry well to be used later in recipes.
    For today's visitor, child or adult, Harvest Days gives a different perspective on making a living. Such perspective can inspire creativity and help rediscover simple methods. Today's entertainment has to be well scripted, produced, and directed, all powered by electricity. Tall Tale Teller, Reid Miller, will be on hand to share the wonder of the spoken word that has captivated humans for centuries as stories of the past and life's lessons can be shared by all. Miller's musical skills show how a single voice and instrument can entertain as easily as any pre-recorded electrified music that requires complex electronic machinery to be heard.
     Harvest Days at the least can re-assure children who are picking up their parents' economic anxieties that there are alternative ways of doing
things, that creativity and inspired imagination can replace that must have cable TV or latest video game.
     For adults a visit to Garfield Far Museum demonstrates what a sustained effort by donors and volunteers over time can achieve. Now in its 31st year, it was started in 1977 with 163 acres and a $200,000 debt. The project now consists of over 370 acres, has 26 structures being maintained and /or restored, a staff of 5, and a beginning endowment for its long term sustainability. Harvest Days is the oldest fundraising activity of the museum and its volunteer bakers who make pies, cookies and cakes for the Harvest Days Farmer's Market demonstrate how a beginning effort can achieve more than was imagined.
     Inglenook Pantry will be on hand with refreshments available.  Garfield Farm Museum is 5 miles west of Geneva, IL off ILL Route 38 on Garfield Road.  For information call 630 584-8485 or e-mail There is a $6 donation for adults and $3 for children under 13 years of age.

For more information about Garfield Farm send an e-mail message to: or call 630/584-8485.