By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN
BG Independent News
Carter Historic Farm will soon be cookin’ again.
The historic farm, which is part of the Wood County Park District, is making its transition to being a working farm. That covers everything from the crops grown in the fields to the foods cooked up in the kitchen.
“We’re going from a petting zoo to an actual working farm,” Jeff Baney, assistant director of the Wood County Park District said Tuesday during a meeting of the park board.
“Nothing out there is static,” Baney said. Which means equipment like the antique tractors actually have to work the fields. The chickens, goats and farm cats serve a purpose. It’s hoped they will be joined by sheep, cattle and eventually horses.
Visitors to the farm, on Carter Road north of Bowling Green, will be able to experience a day in the life of a depression era farm.
“At the end of the day, the biggest thing a farm did was put food on the table,” Baney said.
But there’s a glitch in that plan.
The circa 1930 oven in the farmhouse kitchen has outlived its usefulness. The oven overheats, refuses to shut off, and even turns on all by itself.
That poses a problem, since a lot of cooking programs at the historic farm require an oven, according to Corinne Gordon, historic farm specialist with the park district.
So on Tuesday, the board heard a request to replace the old oven with a new oven that is designed to look like a 1925 oven. The oven would cost $5,399.
“It’s a very specialized piece of equipment,” Baney said.
But the oven is essential to programming at the farm, which offers educational programs on “farm to table” canning, using herbs from the garden, pickling and jam making.
“For the women of the house, a good portion of the day would be in that kitchen,” Gordon explained to the board.
But board president Denny Parish had other concerns. The price tag of more than $5,000 was “a hard swallow,” he said.
“I know how this will look to many members of the public,” he said, fearing that citizens may view this as irresponsible spending after the recent passage of the park district levy. “I’m not sure right now that I can support this.”
Parish asked if other options had been considered – like buying an actual 1920s-era oven, or asking the vendor Appliance Center to donate a portion of the cost. He also asked how often the oven is actually used at the farm.
Gordon said the oven is used every day the farm is open, which is three days each week and for special events. A lot of school groups visit the site.
“It’s going to be used continually,” she said, stressing the emphasis on the site being a working farm. It’s one thing to have home-cooked foods already prepared in the kitchen, “it’s another thing to actually smell it and taste it,” Gordon said.
Gordon also said a new oven that looks old will be much safer than an authentic old oven.
“I think it would be a worthwhile investment,” said Jim Witter, program coordinator for the park district.
After discussion, Parish was still not thrilled with the park district spending so much on an oven – so he offered to put $2,000 toward the purchase himself.
“Now I’ll call my wife and tell her,” Parish said with a smile.
“You’re welcome to come cook on the stove any time,” said Neil Munger, director of the park district.