If playing with a Shirley Temple doll or humming “Begin the Beguine” is your idea of fun, return to the 1930s at Gallant Farm Preserve in Delaware, Ohio, like we did last Sunday afternoon.
Since 2012, the 19-acre farm has reminded visitors of Delaware County’s agricultural heritage by illustrating what farming was like during the 1930s.
We started to get the picture when we looked inside a large white barn housing farming equipment from the era that is still used for cultivating the land with 1930s techniques. Its original timber frame was part of a larger barn used at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893. Next, we wandered around a four-stall multipurpose implement shed, which houses sleds, a sleigh, lumber and a workbench strewn with antique tools. We peeked inside a 1940 Chevy Master Deluxe sports sedan and saw a picnic basket, a quilt and a folding chair packed in the back seat.
From the outside, the farm’s bright-red granary looks like it might store threshed grain or animal feed, but we discovered that it provides classroom space for education programs.
It also is home to a cross-section of Big Troy, a 250-year-old Bur Oak tree that was once known as the second largest Bur Oak tree in the state of Ohio. Growth rings marked with historic events provide a guide to the dendrochronology of this tree that once grew on the property.
The farm includes a pond, orchard and demonstration crop fields. Kitchen herbs, pumpkins, radishes and an array of brightly colored flowers are planted in the garden. The chicken coop is home to a rambunctious flock of chickens.
But the highlight of Gallant Farm Preserve is a newly constructed reproduction of a rural 1930s farmhouse, furnished with household items from the era. The house has running water and is electrified to show the technological advances of the time.
In the parlor, Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s photo rests on the mantel. Braided rugs cover the floor, while crocheted antimacassars protect upholstered armchairs. A radio and phonograph provide Depression-era entertainment.
A sewing machine sits before a bedroom window, while books of the era are stacked on the inviting dining-room window seat. Gourds, dried herbs and Mason jars filled with home-canned products are stored in the cellar. Scalloped shelf paper decorates the edges of shelving in the pantry.
Handmade curtains and a wood-burning stove provide a cozy touch at the windows of the expansive, sunny yellow kitchen.
Lumberman’s jackets hang on hooks by the side door. An old spool serves as a screen door handle, illustrating the thrifty ways of 1930s Americans.
We found farm manager Gabe Ross shelling horticulture beans on the side porch, where a triangle dinner bell hangs.
Unlike their green relatives, these nifty heirloom beans — also known as October beans — mature on the vine until the pods start to dry out.
Then, we crossed Buttermilk Hill Road and spent some time enjoying Gallant Woods Preserve, which features woods, meadows, restored prairies and wetlands, and two miles of trails. Shelter houses provide places for picnicking, resting after taking a walk on the Acorn Trail, and learning about the park’s sledding hill, meadows and restored prairies and wetlands. Both preserves were created through the generosity of Charlotte Gallant, who donated 83 acres of her family’s farm on Buttermilk Hill Road to Preservation Parks of Delaware County in 1997, and an anonymous donor who contributed an additional 148 acres.
It’s free to visit Gallant Farm Preserve and its neighboring woods. Stop by the farm at 1:00 p.m. this Saturday, October 4, to help farm staff start a crock of sauerkraut and learn how to preserve food through fermentation so you can make your own countertop kraut at home. Other programs are offered throughout the year.
Can you guess what this week’s mystery item displayed on the farmhouse’s sideboard was used for? Leave me a comment and let me know!