“Saving the Past”: Volunteering and the Repurposing Projects at Hale Farm & Village

“Saving the Past”: Volunteering and the Repurposing Projects at Hale Farm & VillageWhile DIY, or “do it yourself”, projects have become a trendy way of life in recent years, recycling and repurposing has always been a part of farm living – especially at Hale Farm & Village. Preserving the story of the Western Reserve is the backbone to the InHale initiative, and we could not do it without the help of community members who volunteer their versatile skills and talents.

When making new developments and improvements, we encourage repurposing materials recovered on our 90+ acres of land. But, what exactly is repurposing? Repurposing can be done by modifying material to fit a new use, or by using the material in a new way. Ultimately, instead of throwing away used or worn material, that material can be reworked to create something that appears brand new.


“Saving the Past”: Volunteering and the Repurposing Projects at Hale Farm & VillageSo how does this work at a living history museum? “Back in 2015, all twenty-two sets of shutters on the three-story brick Hale House were restored and repainted,” offers Joe Tokarsky, Preservation Lead at Hale Farm. “Also, our sheep were given new feeders and our crafters were given new looms from repurposed wood.” All of these projects directly support the mission of the museum and our ability to provide quality programs for our visitors and the community.

The latest repurposing project at Hale Farm is a multipurpose, saltbox shaped wood shed, built entirely out of repurposed wood from old fencing in the Hale Farm south pasture. The man behind the scenes of these various projects is Bill Dunick. Dunick has been volunteering at Hale Farm & Village for two and a half years, offering us his expertise in carpentry and repurposing. Dunick resides in Kent, Ohio and is a Kent State graduate in Industrial Arts. He worked in engineering and manufacturing management for forty years and has built three homes in his lifetime. A friend of Dunick’s was a volunteer at Hale Farm and suggested he join the team as well. Although Dunick’s superb and efficient work has been in high demand on the farm, he is free to work at his leisure. Dunick volunteers at Hale Farm not only for his enjoyment of carpentry, but because of the importance of repurposing. “As a society, we need to repurpose. Today we throw things away; I see a pile of what you would think is trash as a new creation that can be repurposed.”

As a volunteer, Dunick chooses his hours and is provided with tools, space, and materials to work with. There are plenty of projects to go around at Hale Farm & Village, so if you are interested in creating and preserving, please click here for more information about volunteer opportunities.

The latest BUZZ at Hale Farm & Village….BEEKEEPING!

Beekeeping at Hale Farm & Village

Every spring, Hale Farm & Village is buzzing with activity, welcoming school field trips and preparing the grounds for more visitors during the busy summer season.

But “buzzing” is taking on a whole new meaning this year as the Hale Farm staff is bringing back to the farm an old form of entrepreneurship the Hales themselves practiced: beekeeping.

In partnership with Urban Honey Bee from Clinton, Ohio, Hale Farm’s staff has been developing educational lessons on beekeeping. Museum educator Joe Skonce worked with Urban Honey bee to write an interpretation for teaching the evolution and innovation of 19th century beekeeping practices. Laura Urban and Mike Conley also developed and provided a new educational hive exhibit. This “bee-free” hive includes a brood chamber and honey supers, minus the bees, of course. The frames do contain full-color photos and accompanying text, showing what bees do. The educational hive was launched to visiting school groups April 13 and is a mobile exhibit that will be featured in different areas of the village and farm throughout the program year. One lesson for school children, part of Youth Entrepreneurship Education, includes teaching the characteristics of entrepreneurship:

  • Assuming the risk in starting a business for the purpose of making a profit
  • Special skill or resources leading to starting a business
  • Productive resources, including natural, human and capital

Beekeeping at Hale Farm & VillageIt’s known from Hale family journals that hives were kept on the farm for pollination and production of honey. Among Hale family collection pieces is a bee box, used for bee lining, the practice of locating a wild hive by tracking a bee back to the bee tree.

Since the historical connection to beekeeping is so strong, Hale Farm’s educators will include beekeeping as a permanent lesson in their youth education programs.

So not only is beekeeping a part of the entrepreneurship lessons, but candle making demonstrations in the Summer Cottage also will connect the wax with hives and bees. Interpreters in the gardens of Hale Farm also will mention the importance of bees as pollinators of plants.

Urban Honey Bee has been a friend to Hale Farm & Village over several seasons, speaking on the business of beekeeping and how to start an apiary at special events, including Sow & Grow and Harvest Festival.

Last fall, Urban Honey Bee principals Laura Urban and Mike Conley asked Hale Farm & Village if they could become more involved in the museum’s vision through teaching about beekeeping on-site and keeping active hives at the farm.

Beekeeping at Hale Farm & VillageThat led to Laura, Mike and Joe working together to develop this year’s beekeeping educational interpretation. And Hale Farm & Village now has two hives – with bees – behind the Goldsmith House in an area that’s not open to the public.

Urban Honey Bee will also be very present at Hale Farm this summer, starting with the Sow & Grow Farm Festival in June, where they will teach a workshop on getting started in beekeeping. They will also hold a honey-tasting event in July and teach a “Is Beekeeping for You?” workshop in August.

Starting in the fall and going through winter, Urban Honey Bee plans to teach beginning, intermediate, and advanced beekeeping classes at Hale Farm to whomever is interested in getting into the business.

So if this latest buzz from Hale Farm has piqued your interest in the honey business, stay tuned to our website, Facebook, and Twitter pages for upcoming information on beekeeping talks and classes.

Dressing a Historic Village; Costuming at Hale Farm

Dressing a Historic Village

One of the best parts of visiting Hale & Farm Village, especially for children, is seeing the museum educators dressed in 19th century clothing. These men and women make the history experience real, whether they’re sweating through a blacksmith demonstration in the summer or trying to keep warm during a Holiday Lantern tour.

If you’re wondering what goes into the costume design and care, well, it’s a lot. A lot of team work, research, and planning. A lot of washing and mending. A lot of critical thinking about even the materials that were available to our 19th century friends in the Western Reserve.


Behind the scenes at Hale Farm

Jenna Langa is one of the museum educators tasked with the responsibility of sewing and maintaining the costumes used by the museum educators. While in college, Jenna worked in the theatre costume shop repairing and making costume pieces for shows.

“I understand the inconvenience of uncomfortable costume pieces, whether (it’s) because of a missing button or a piece of hoop from the hoop skirt poking you during the day,” Jenna says.

Behinds the ScenesAnd while Hale Farm & Village has been closed to visitors in January and February, Jenna has been busy researching tailors and dressmakers of the mid-1800s and writing up an interpretation for the educators to use this year.

She’s also been washing and repairing costumes in the museum’s collection that have been ripped or lost hooks or buttons during the past year. Some of the hoop skirts needed new metal wires to make the skirts look correct and be more comfortable to wear.

The museum educators themselves are in charge of the maintenance of their costumes, but Jenna and educator Kirsten Fitzgerald are the point women who help them with repairs to the clothing they don’t know how to do themselves. Their detail work also includes helping the educators choose their costumes for the season so they fit correctly and are accurate for the sites where they’re demonstrating.

One thing that will be different about the costuming this year is that the educators will have period-correct quilted winter hoods to help keep them warm. Amazingly, Jenna was able to teach herself quilting patterns from the historical record and produce 19th century hoods this off-season.



Fashion or function?

Fashion or FunctionHale Farm & Village staff consider many variables about what types of costumes to wear and when they’re appropriate. Lisa Pettry, Hale Farm’s Education and Public Program Manager, notes that these questions are what the staff considers about costuming:

  • What were the fashions of the day?
  • What did different classes or occupations of people wear?
  • Did a pioneer woman bring to the frontier only the most serviceable clothing?
  • Did our pioneer women develop a style of their own?
  • In the village, what class should be highlighted? And what activity and year?

If you’ve toured Hale Farm & Village recently, you may remember that the museum presents life from two important periods in Northeast Ohio’s history: pre-canal and post-canal.

Lisa says the pre-canal era presentation looks beyond what a particular individual may have worn to what they would have brought with them, created, or acquired to wear that would have matched their circumstances.

Fashion or FunctionIn the pre-canal era of 1810, fashion plates show high-style Regency in a woman’s gown with low-round neckline, high bodice, back closure tight-fitting sleeves, and a narrow skirt with a small train. Lisa says the staff believes frontier women likely found such fashions impractical.

Much of the clothing answers are found in popular publications of the era, personal journals, or collections of surviving pieces. So in the village, for example, Hale Farm’s educators do not fixate on a particular year but share the story of daily life in a period of history.

So the next time you come to Hale Farm & Village for a festival or to take a tour with the kids, keep these things in mind about the 19th century costumes:

  • Hale Farm modifies a formal Regency style for pre-canal women with higher necklines, longer bodices, fuller sleeves skirts, and front closure, all for ease of wear.
  • Accessories are used to improve an overall impression, where perfect historical accuracy is not attainable.
  • Mid-century styles are “averaged” where possible, avoiding fashion extremes while highlighting general aspects of the wardrobe.