Welcome to the Heckler Plains Farmstead, located at the intersection of Morris & Landis Road, Harleysville, PA. The farmstead is part of the Lower Salford Park system, and since it was established in 1975, the Heckler Plains Folklife Society (then Blue Print ’76, later re-named) has worked with Lower Salford Township to maintain and restore the historic structures and preserve the farmstead as representation of a working-man’s farm in the late 1700s-early 1800s. The farmstead boasts a Rhine Valley Bottom Barn dating to 1761, an outdoor bake oven whose baking chamber pre-dates the American Revolution, and a farmhouse, which is currently undergoing a beautiful restoration.
The Society is a non-profit, volunteer organization that hosts several public events during the year. Their programs and events are geared towards all ages, and signing up for a membership has so many rewards! Current members at Heckler Plain Folklife Society include long-timers with storied memories of our area’s past, history enthusiasts who enjoy preserving the lifestyle of our early settlers, and young members who have a passion for community planning, events, restoration and genealogy. The Folklife Society even hosts vintage baseball games that relive and celebrate the way the game was played in the 1860’s….high socks, old school uniforms, an open field, and a whole lot of fun!
The Heckler Plains History Fair is also a huge attraction for our local residents and offers a glimpse into the life of trades and tradesman who helped pave the way for generations to follow. Check out the Heckler Plains FB page for more information on all the latest announcements, like their upcoming Herb Festival happening this April. Scroll down to learn more….
The Heckler Plains History Fair is also a huge attraction for our local residents and offers a glimpse into the life of trades and tradesman who helped pave the way for generations to follow. Check out the Heckler Plains FB page for more information on all the latest announcements like their upcoming Herb Festival, read below to learn more!
Springtime in the 1800s
Our early forebears – particularly the Pennsylvania Germans – were nothing if not traditional. This is especially true when it comes to springtime and preparing for the growing season, as this was their livelihood and means of survival. Following are a few springtime traditions that were essential to follow:
- On Ash Wednesday, farmers would gather the wood ashes from their fireplace ash pits and generously sprinkle over their fruit trees and bushes, perennials and livestock. This practice kept parasites away and plants and animals healthy.
- On Holy Thursday, also called Maundy Thursday, children would rise early and collect eggs before mother would demand them for breakfast. Later, the eggs would be hard boiled in a pot with onion skins, which created a beautiful, mahogany color. Then, very gently, the eggs would be “scratched” with an Easter-theme design and presented to family and friends on Easter morning. In essence, an early form of Easter cards.
- Each Spring, it was the job of the men and boys to prepare the garden for planting. This was where the food that fed the family throughout the year was grown. After the soil was turned and manure applied, mother would plant her seeds, trim and refresh her herbs. Since there were no pesticides, the resourceful Pennsylvania Germans practiced companion planting to both enhance the growth of their plants and ward off pests. For instance, Tansy was planted near doorways to keep ants away; it was also hung near windows (which did not have screens) to keep flies out of the house. Lavender and Wormwood were dried and place in drawers and chests to prevent moths from destroying precious clothing and linens.
Throughout the growing season, the lady of the house would proudly show off her garden to friends when they came to visit.
On that note, The Heckler Plains Folklife Society welcomes all gardeners to the annual Herb Festival, Saturday, April 30 2016 from 10am to 2pm!