Old-time farm activities and live animals are among the highlights of the Holz Farm Spring Festival in Eagan.
, Courtesy city of Eagan
HOLZ FARM SPRING FESTIVAL AND ARBOR DAY CELEBRATION
When: Sunday, 11 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Where: 4665 Manor Drive, Eagan
Information: 651-675-5500, www.cityofeagan.com
Raptor Center demonstrations
Eagan Men's Chorus performance
Eagan Women of Note performance
Corn, onion, Lima beans, potato and pumpkin planting demonstrations
Apron history lesson
Field plowing and discing
Vintage equipment & tractor display
Bread baking/butter churning
Pony rides, hay ride, cow milking on "Oreo" the virtual cow, pedal tractor corral, rope making
A bustling farmstead in the middle of the city
- Article by: LIZ ROLFSMEIER
- Special to the Star Tribune
- May 18, 2012 - 8:03 PM
Who knew old-fashioned chores could be so much fun? Last year, when a group of kids at Holz Farm finished a game early, volunteer Norm Peterson of Eagan asked if they wanted to play another game or pick rocks in the field. To his surprise, they picked the latter.
"They did so well, we threw them back in the field for the next group," he said.
The Holz farmstead, which dates back to the 1800s, holds its annual spring festival May 20, where visitors can plant by hand, eat bread baked in a wood stove, watch a blacksmithing or beekeeping demonstration, and otherwise immerse themselves in farm life circa 1940.
A trip up the gravel drive shaded by a huge 200-year-old oak -- "The second biggest in Eagan," volunteer Linda Klein of Eagan pointed out -- brings visitors to a charming 100-year-old yellow farmhouse, which sits on a hill surrounded by farm buildings: a granary, a smokehouse, a corncrib, sheds, a hay barn and other outbuildings.
Like many in the first half of the 1900s, owners Ella and Otto Holz operated a varied and sustainable farm. They grew corn, hay, and oats for livestock and raised hogs to provide meat. They kept a huge vegetable garden and grew strawberries, raspberries and apples. They sold milk, bartered eggs and, like other farmers in Eagan, the onion capital of the United States in the '30s and '40s, they grew onions to sell.
The couple died three weeks apart in their 80s. Without any children to inherit the farm, nieces and nephews had planned to sell it to a developer when Eagan city officials stepped in to acquire it in 1995. Now volunteers keep up the farmhouse, officially listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2007. While the grounds are always open and kids visit for summer youth camps, the farmhouse only opens to the public three times a year during the spring festival, the fall harvest and the holiday celebration.
During the spring festival, in the kitchen, with its pantry, wood-burning stove, icebox and old crank telephone, volunteers bake bread and churn butter by hand. The main floor contains artifacts, including a pump organ and a vintage Philco radio, a heavy mohair sofa and chair, and a treadle sewing machine with flowered cloth feed sacks stacked up for making dresses.
"We try to keep everything as '40s as we can," Klein said.
The farm functions mostly as a labor of love. Klein got involved after a Friends of the Farm volunteer clean-up day. "I thought they could use some help with the grapevines," she said. "And they had red tractors. My husband loves red tractors."
Several of the tractors in the hay barn were donated, and "the Ford we bought for almost a song," said Peterson. The two wooden rocking chairs appeared on the open porch one day, donated by neighbors, and the blacksmithing shop is lined with many donated antique tools. A neighbor brings chickens in the spring and tends them all summer long, and the Eagan Garden Club maintains the gardens full of columbine, irises, rhubarb and grapevines.
Peterson, who still gets up at 5:30 every morning as he did as a kid to milk cows -- "Can't break the habit after 50 years," he said -- has a long project list for all of the volunteers. He and Klein's husband, Joel, work together on the grounds regularly and just checked another project off the list: refinishing the house's hardwood floors.
Still, Klein contends, much like the kids who love picking rocks, "they don't come out to work, they come out to play."
Liz Rolfsmeier is a Twin Cities freelance writer.
© 2013 Star Tribune