It’s springtime at the Historic Andrew Peterson Farmstead in Waconia! Crowds flocked like birds to this local, historic treasure on June 2 for the first of its kind celebration. Partnering with the Scott-Carver Threshers, a group dedicated to preserving agricultural and industrial history for future generations, the Carver County Historical Society (CCHS) proudly presented the first public event at the farmstead since its restoration.
“We kept telling ourselves we need to do something out there but we’re a small staff so we always look for groups to partner with to get more momentum,” explained Heidi Gould with CCHS. “We wanted to do something [at the Historic Andrew Peterson Farmstead] but it wasn’t until we teamed up with the Scott-Carver Threshers that we really go the planning in the works.”
The rain or shine event was dubbed Springtime on the Farm and took place from 10a.m. to 5p.m. It featured an afternoon with Carlson’s Lovable Llamas, a tractor show, barn quilts, an old fashion general store, baby animals from the Carver County 4-H clubs, FFA and much more. They also had a blacksmith there doing demonstrations for those who were curious about what a blacksmith does, how they do their work, etc. A local restaurant in Norwood Young America also provided food and drinks available for purchase.
CCHS doesn’t usually charge for their events at the museum, Gould said, but the proceeds from this event went directly back into the historic site.
“Every little bit helps when you’re a historical society,” she added.
CCHS began their involvement with the farm after one of the barns collapsed a number of years ago.
“We were helping to fix that barn that had collapsed and rebuild it,” Gould recalled. “That [barn] is beautifully restored now and we [had] a general store inside it during this event.”
CCHS is currently in the process of doing construction drawings and fundraising to restore the rest of the buildings on the property.
Back in 2016, the Historic Andrew Peterson Farmstead had a grand opening celebration that was open to the public. However, Gould explained not many people were aware CCHS had inherited the farm or were turning it into a historic property.
“A lot of people aren’t familiar with Andrew Peterson and why he was so important or why we’re making such a fuss about [him],” she said. “He was one of the first farmers to experiment with apples in Minnesota. By no means, was he the only, but he was among the first. His farm was an early research station with the University of Minnesota which were the precursors to what is now the Horticulture Research Center at the arboretum.”
According to the CCHS website, the significance of the farm has more to do with Andrew Peterson and his diaries, his work with apples and the formation of the Scandia Baptist Church than the land itself. Part of the mass exodus of Swedish immigrants who came to the United States between 1820 and 1920, Andrew Peterson kept a diary from the time he left his homeland to the day he died.
The 48 years covered in his diaries are currently being translated by CCHS so they can be published. According to their website, CCHS received a Legacy grant to translate his diaries to English. Their hope is to have the finished translation posted on their website by Fall of 2018.
Despite its incredible historical significance, not many people in Carver County know who Andrew Peterson was or anything about his farm. Events like Springtime on the Farm aim to draw awareness to this amazing piece of Minnesota history.
“We are sister counties with Ydre in Sweden which is where Andrew originally immigrated from,” explained Gould. “The farm is kind of bigger in Sweden than it is here right now. Not as many people know about him here but Swedes visit this place every year. They come over and they want to go to the farm each year.”
Events like Springtime on the Farm also provide an opportunity to bring members from rural and urban Carver County together to learn about the significance of farming. The historic farm filled with laughter and joy as families and friends learned about the farm, walked llamas, pet cows and pigs, took tractor rides, played games, crafted and just enjoyed the rural beauty of the property.
“There is such a sever lack of knowledge in urban places on who makes your food, where your food comes from and I think Carver County has a chance to work with that because we’re so split down the middle. Very urban. Very rural,” Gould said. “Having places like the [Historic Andrew Peterson Farmstead] where we can bring more city folks and show them why farming is important, why we need farmland, [etc.].”
CCHS hopes to be able to partner with the Scott-Carver Threshers to host this event every year. They strive to continue drawing attention to Andrew Peterson, his farm, and the overall importance of farming in Carver County.
“This [event] we definitely see continuing on in the future and, as we get more of the buildings up and running, we definitely have plans in the works to do programming there,” Gould explained. “We’re going to plant his orchard again so we’ll do horticulture programming, historic farm programming, we’ll even do Swedish language programming.”
CCHS offers tours of the Andrew Peterson farm by request. General tours are free and guided tours are $5 a person.
Additionally, CCHS will be starting a capital fundraising campaign within the next few years. They will be working with a nonprofit organization out of Wisconsin who specifically helps historic farms to preserve and restore their buildings. For every $2 raised by CCHS, this nonprofit will match $1 up to $1 million dollars.
For more information about the Scott-Carver Threshers, please visit www.scottcarverthreshers.org
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