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Wheat Planting and Threshing

September 8 – October 13

In this unique program, children learn farming from the ground up: starting in the field and ending in the kitchen! Participants begin by helping farmers prepare the ground for a crop of winter wheat: tilling the field, sowing seeds by “hand broadcasting”, and comparing this method to mechanical planting. Using Howell Farm wheat cut earlier this year, kids fast-forward to the next summer harvest – first learning how farmers bundle the stalks into sheaves, then stacking the sheaves into a free-standing “shock.”

The hands-on work continues, threshing the wheat with a flail and separating it from the chaff by winnowing with a hand-crank fanning mill. After learning how farmers would then store and process wheat – in the past and today – children finally pay a visit to the farmhouse kitchen to taste bread baked with flour ground from the same wheat grown on the farm.

Program Objectives

Using methods and tools common in New Jersey from 1890-1910, students will plant and process the farm’s wheat crop in order to understand: 

  • That planting is not only done in the spring
  • That much of our food comes from plants grown on farms 
  • How methods and technology change over time 
  •  That plants, animals, and humans on the farm are interdependent
  • How wheat is processed into food 


Essential Questions:

  • What do farmers plant in the fall, and why?
  • What does a plant do to survive the winter and how can the farmer help?
  •  What simple tools can be used to turn wheat into flour?
  • Has technology changed the way we process the wheat crop?
  •  What are the steps required to bake bread? 
STEM Standards

Next Generation Science Standards: PS2.A Forces and Motion LS1.A Structure and Function LS1.B Growth and Development of Organisms LS1.C Compare and contrast what plants and animals need to survive LS2.A Interdependent relationships in ecosystems NJ Science Standards: 5.2E Forces and Motion 5.3A Characteristics of Plants 5.3B Matter and Energy Transformation 5.3C Interdependence 5.4F Climate and Weather NJ Social Studies Standards: 6.1B Geography, People and the Environment 6.1C Economics, Innovation and Technology 6.1D History, Culture and Perspectives


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Howell Farm is owned by the County of Mercer and operated by the Mercer County Park Commission

Brian M. Hughes, County Executive | Aaron T. Watson, Executive Director

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