Video and intro from Pete Watson, RPCV Dahomey/Benin, ’72-76, manager of Howell Living History Farm, Mercer County Park Commission (a “living history” 270 year old farm of 30-acres where people can learn about earlier methods of farming in NJ).
Each year, we plant (among other things) a crop of potatoes that when mature, gets donated to Trenton area soup kitchens and food pantries. I guess this is our 25 or 26th year. All have involved NJ RPCVs, who come to help plant (or in late summer, harvest) and help us demonstrate the relevance of the historical farming methods we use, in today’s world. One of my favorite stories is about the young intern we had from Ecuador, who wanted to increase his production of organic milk for his markets in Quito. He spent several months with us learning how to train oxen and use them to pull sickle bar mowers … so that he could harvest more forage off the steep slopes of his farm, outside Quito. The slopes were too steep for tractors, so farm power was the constraint to increasing production and tapping new markets. He found us on the internet, and came to ‘mine’ our history for ideas that he could adapt and apply in his operation. A nice, additional use for the history we present to so many school kids, who get to see history in action instead of on the shelf.”
Check out the fun video of this year’s April 26 “Potato Planting for Trenton Soup Kitchens” by volunteer photographer/videographer extraordinaire Jeff Kelley (see below). Some of the seed cutters and planters are former Peace Corps volunteers who live in NJ, and who come out every year to help Rob & crew plant and harvest the crop. Over a hundred visitors joined the crew at various times throughout the day, resulting in us succeeding in planting about a half acre of Yukon Golds and Katahdins that should yield a ton or more of potatoes for local food pantries and banks. Another masterful job of “Sawyering” by Farmer Rob and fellow Howell Farmers Ian Ferry and Larry Kidder!
Okay … oxen Jim & John deserve credit too, for hauling all the seed and equipment out to the field, and workhorses Bill & Jess (bays) and Jack & Chester (sorrels) deserve a round of applause too.
609 240 4414 cell ph., 609 737 3299 farm office