Got a history buff in the family? Wish you did? Consider visiting one of New Jersey’s living history farms—working farms that allow visitors to experience rural life as it was during a certain time. You’ll find interpreters in period dress, farming practices of the time in action, and historically accurate structures. The farms will help your family develop an appreciation for New Jersey’s rich agricultural past.
Fosterfields Living Historical Farm (shown)
Morris Township; 973-326-7645
See the world through the eyes of Caroline Foster, who lived 98 of her 102 years on this farm. Go on September 9th for the 1920s-style country fair, where you can lend a hand with cider pressing, experience a cow judging, and play period games. Visit any weekend day to participate in turn-of-the-20th-century farm activities like churning butter.
• Bonus tip: At 3 pm on most days, you can help collect eggs in the henhouse.
Historic Longstreet Farm
Experience the sights, sounds, smells—and animals!—of Monmouth County in the 1890s. September highlights include the September 30th Harvest Home Festival with wagon rides, games, and live entertainment. There will also be competitions in categories like needlework and baked goods; call ahead to enter.
• Bonus tip: On regular weekend days, public participation is allowed at the 3 pm cow milking.
More living history farms in NJ—>
Howell Living History Farm
This is another farm that lets you step back into turn-of-the-20th-century New Jersey—a time when farming still depended on equipment drawn by horses. See them at work and visit other animals, like sheep and oxen, along the way. There are activities every Saturday, including fall tillage wagon tours on September 15th, which is also when the corn maze opens.
• Bonus tip: Arrive at 10 am on most Saturdays for a chance to collect eggs in the chicken house.
Valley Shepherd Creamery
Long Valley; 908-876-3200
Though not technically a living history farm, Valley Shepherd Creamery accomplishes the same aim: cultivating respect for our agricultural heritage while having fun. It’s an old-fashioned working sheep farm that uses age-old European practices to produce artisan cheeses, yogurt, and butter. Its signature activity of the season is the fall tour. Start at the Sheep Shoppe for a tasting and take a wagon ride to the Sheep Aging Cave, where you’ll learn how the cheeses are aged.
• Bonus tip: Tours are on weekends at 1 pm and 4 pm, but only on the later tour can you view the sheep milking.
Renée Sagiv Riebling is a freelance writer from central New Jersey. She and her husband and two children are always on the lookout for new and exciting adventures.