The Pleasant Valley Historical Park
What is now called Howell Farm has been a working farm for 285 years. During its 45 years as a property of Mercer County, the farm has grown from a 126-acre tract of donated farmland to a 267-acre historical park where the agriculture and lifestyle of earlier times is presented annually to more than10,000 school children and 55,000 other visitors. As a living history farm, it continues to operate on a full, working scale by raising crops and livestock, and by using the house and barns as people did in earlier times. Dozens of horse powered field and transportation operations are used to farm the 50 tillable acres where corn, oats, wheat and hay are raised using equipment representative of the period.
The Mercer County Park Commission's successful preservation and restoration of the farm qualified the property for listings on the National and State Registers of Historic Places in 1978, just four years after it was given to the County by the Howell Family of Pennington. Public appreciation of the 'farm park' that opened in 1984, and state and national recognition of its award-winning programs, inspired the 1991 formation of the Pleasant Valley National Rural Historic District. Key properties within the district were subsequently acquired by Mercer County and are maintained and operated by Howell Farm as The Pleasant Valley Historical Park. Visitors can enjoy the park through the tours of its one-room schoolhouse, late Revolutionary War period farmhouse, cemetery and the archaeological sites of a blacksmith shop, gristmill and two sawmills.
Howell Farm continues as a working farm, contributing to New Jersey's legacy as the Garden State. Dozens of horse-powered field and transportation operations are used to farm 126 acres: from growing corn, oats, wheat and hay to raising animals that give us milk, eggs and wool. Each year, more than 65,000 visitors learn about the seeds, heritage breeds, and farming methods it preserves...and the ways they are still used to improve agriculture today.
The History of Howell Farm
In a virtual event co-sponsored by the Mercer County Library System and the Mercer County Park Commission, farm historian and longtime volunteer Larry Kidder tells the remarkable story of Howell Farm's rural history and heritage, the evolution of its mission as a public park, and the ways farmers are working to preserve the past and educate future generations. (6/29/2021)