Separating the Wheat from the Chaff at the Upcoming #HandsonHistory Exhibit at Keeler Tavern Museum & History Center

#HandsonHistory Exhibit at Keeler Tavern Museum & History Center, September 29 to October 27

Keeler Tavern Museum & History Center (KTM&HC) announces the return of the popular #HandsonHistory Living Off the Land exhibit in the historic Carriage Barn beginning September 29 and continuing through October 27. Coinciding with the fall harvest of local food by current Connecticut farmers, this exhibit will demonstrate how Ridgefielders of yesteryear sustained themselves during the 18th and 19th centuries. Indeed, from its founding in 1708 until the late 19th century, Ridgefield was primarily a farming community, producing such crops as corn, wheat, apples, barley, beets, onions, herbs, and more. #HandsonHistory honors that era by presenting farm tools and implements used in all stages of food production – from preparing the soil to harvesting and processing crops for consumption and sale. There will also be a focus on dairy farming, a lesser known but vibrant part of Fairfield County’s farming community.

In addition to presenting many of the tools that farmers used, the exhibit will also highlight the ways farmers used STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) to make their work more efficient, reduce labor, and increase yields.

“One really exciting example of early innovation was a fanning mill that farmers used to separate the wheat from the chaff,” said Catherine Prescott, assistant museum director and lead curator of the exhibit. “Prior to the fan, farmers had to wait for a windy day, toss a big pile of wheat into the air, hope the chaff blew away and the wheat fell to the ground. But what if there wasn’t any wind? The invention of a fanning mill took the place of wind; one will be on display at the #HandsonHistory exhibit.”

The display of tools is only one part of the #HandsonHistory exhibit. Visitors will be able to interact with some of the tools and will also have an opportunity to “milk” Millie, a large replica cow. There will be a series of family-friendly Sunday talks beginning October 6 through the final day of the exhibit, Sunday, October 27. These will include a presentation by heirloom fruit expert Peter Montgomery on heirloom apple farming; on Native Americans living off the land by Darlene Kascak of the Institute of American Indian Studies; on shipping-container farming by Ridgefield resident John Papa with graduate student Joe Alvarez; and on beekeeping by Tony Steger, a local beekeeper and Superintendent of the Ridgefield Golf Course.

The #HandsonHistory exhibition is open Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays from 1 to 4 p.m. School and youth groups may schedule private guided tours of the exhibit Monday through Friday, October 1 through October 25 by calling the Museum office at 203 438-5485 or emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .


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