My son's kindergarten class recently took a trip to Oliver Kelley Farm in Elk River, Minnesota. Having driven past it hundreds of times on Highway 10 over the years, I finally got my chance to see what it is all about this week.

The farm is a working farm that dates back to the mid-1800's. The people working on the farm today are dressed appropriately for the time and did a wonderful job entertaining and educating the hundreds of kids that came through that day.

WHO IS OLIVER KELLEY 

Oliver Kelley was born in Boston in 1826 before heading to Chicago in 1847, where he worked as a reporter for the Chicago Tribune. He met his future wife Lucy in Chicago and the pair moved to St. Paul in the brand-new state of Minnesota in 1849.

Upon arriving in Minnesota he met Governor Alexander Ramsey, who made Kelley a messenger of the House of Representatives. Based on a rumor that Elk River (then called Itasca) would become the state capital, Kelley bought land in the area in 1850.

Kelley had a huge impact on agriculture in the state as well.

MNHS.ORG:

Kelley became a “book farmer,” learning the latest farming techniques from agricultural journals. He built one of the first frame barns north of St. Anthony. Over the years, he tried his hand at growing a wide range of crops, from asparagus to melons. He was reported to be the first farmer in Minnesota to own a mechanical reaper and the first to sow timothy hay.

 

Kelley installed an elaborate irrigation system and experimented with a variety of livestock. He campaigned eagerly for more experimentation, advanced methods and exchange of information among farmers - all of which he published.

Dave Overlund
Dave Overlund
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On our trip to the Oliver Kelley Farm we got to see inside the Kelley house, which last housed residents in the 1930's. The kids learned about cracker making, the many uses for crackers in those times and even got to taste one!

Dave Overlund
Dave Overlund
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We also learned about the farm's giant Ox, Blaze, and the kids had a chance to groom him while he reclined, happy in his 'retirement' from the hard labor required of him on the farm.

Dave Overlund
Dave Overlund
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In addition to the brushing, the kids had a chance to scoop up some ox turds and learn how it could be used to create fertilizer for the crops.

Dave Overlund
Dave Overlund
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After checking out Blaze we were led to a chicken coop where the kids were taught about all the many things that sheep and chicken provided not only for people in Kelley's time but even today.

Dave Overlund
Dave Overlund
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Dave Overlund
Dave Overlund
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In addition to the farm education, the Kelley Farm has a wonderful view of the Mississippi River and a nice gravel trail perfect for hiking.

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