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July 16, 2013 > Wheat Harvest recreates history

Wheat Harvest recreates history

Follow a wheat berry's journey from the field to your table when Ardenwood Historic Farm hosts two "Wheat Harvesting" afternoons on July 21 and 28. For 20 years, the public has been invited to come out and lend a helping hand in order to experience how farmers have harvested this crop.

From the1860s to 1890s, wheat was an important export crop for local farmers; most of the harvest was shipped to San Francisco and then over to Europe. But in later years, farmers discovered they had more options and switched from grain crops to vegetables, which brought higher prices and profits.

Over 30,000 varieties of wheat are grown today, and though each has its own characteristics and merits, wheat varieties can be simplified into combinations of hard or soft, red or white, winter or spring. Ardenwood grows five acres of a soft winter wheat that is planted in November and harvested in July. This type of wheat contains less protein and gluten and is best for cakes, biscuits, muffins, and pastry flour.

Naturalists will discuss facts and history about wheat then take attendees into the field to demonstrate how wheat was first harvested by scythe and later by machine. Bring in the sheaves of grain, help load the wheat wagon, watch a 1930s stationary threshing machine separate the wheat from the chaff, and mill the grain into stone-ground flour. There will also be biscuits or baked goods to taste.

The wheat berries harvested will be reserved, and at Ardenwood's harvest festival in October it will be milled for consumption; visitors can buy a bag to take home for personal use.

Wheat harvesting time at Ardenwood is an opportunity to take a step back in time and see just what it takes to make an ingredient in some of your favorite foods.

Tools are provided. Summer admission fees apply. For more information, call (510) 544-2797.

Wheat Harvesting
Sundays, July 21 and 28
1:30 p.m. - 3 p.m.
Ardenwood Historic Farm
34600 Ardenwood Blvd., Fremont
(510) 544-2797

Cost: $6 adults (18 and up), $5 seniors (62 and up), $4 children (4-17 years), under four years are free

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