Monday, September 19, 2011

Agriculture Training Symposium for Historic Site and Museum Professionals

Proving yet again that this is the year of all things food, for museums, Kristin Hagar, development and communications coordinator at The Wyck Association shares the following opportunity to explore how food can help museums build community while nurturing their own financial sustainability.

This Friday, Sept. 23, Wyck Historic House & Garden will host an agriculture training symposium for historic site and museum professionals, in which we will discuss how agriculture can function as an impetus for growth in fund-raising, visitorship, and community relations, for both large and small organizations. Case presenters will include the Jane Addams Hull-House Museum, the Wyck Association, Awbury Arboretum, the Weavers Way Food Co-op and Grumblethorpe Museum & Farmstand. The Temple University Fox School of Business will conduct an Innovative and Entrepreneurial Thinking workshop to stimulate ideas about developing and implementing successful agricultural programming, as they have with numerous conservation and food organizations in the greater Philadelphia region.

Wyck Historic House & Garden has a history as colorful as the Rouge Vif d'Etampes pumpkins, red yard-long beans,and Concord grapes that our Home Farm Manager harvested earlier today.  Blessed with a reputation as the most “quirky” among the numerous preserved sites in Philadelphia’s eminently historical Germantown neighborhood, Wyck’s programming over the past four decades focused on the site’s 250 years’ worth of possessions and collections accumulated by the innovators, educators, horticulturalists, and social reformers that lived here. Since 2007, however, Wyck’s Home Farm has been attracting more and more attention out back—including the attention of individuals otherwise uninterested in this National Historic Landmark. 

Wyck’s venture into the nexus of agricultural programming and heritage stewardship began with support from the Samuel S. Fels Fund to develop a farm that serves several distinct but interconnected purposes. The farm grows food for a weekly on-site farmers market; it stands as an interactive, outdoor classroom for local children and adults; it perpetuates Wyck's 300 year-old agricultural traditions; and it enhances the bucolic landscape that visitors to Wyck have long enjoyed. The result is a place that attracts a broader public than before. The Home Farm and related programs have caused Wyck’s audience to more than double in the three years since the farm began.

Urban farming, put simply, is farming with neighbors. And so the cultivation of food becomes a way to cultivate relationships. The multiple functions of the Wyck Home Farm allow us to develop multiple types of relationships and to fulfill, in a real way, our mission to enrich local community life. 

Northwest Philadelphia is a bastion of the locavore movement; from urban farming, to gastronomes, to urban homesteading, food is a top interest among many of our neighbors, and it’s no mere trend. At the same time, Northwest Philadelphia is a socioeconomically mixed, and many other of our neighbors struggle to find decent produce in subpar groceries. Both Wyck and our partner farmers explicitly aim to offer affordable chemical-free foods to the neighborhood, and customers can use food stamps as well as the vouchers distributed through the federally-funded Farmers Market Nutrition Program. The Home Farm also functions as a learning environment for elementary through adult levels. And it’s not hard for anybody who comes by, whether new visitors or family descendants, to feel a sense of satisfaction that this historic site is not only preserved but also enlivened. 

In a nutshell, Wyck’s Home Farm provides a safe, beautiful, historic space in which diverse constituents come together for both pleasures and practicalities, and through which Wyck management can harness an unprecedented range of community outreach opportunities.  Let’s talk about this further!

Please join Wyck Historic House & Garden for
An Agricultural Training Symposium for Historic Site and Museum Professionals
Friday, Sept. 23
9 a.m.–4 p.m.
$65/person; $25/additional persons in group registration

Visit for the symposium brochure and registration information. To register, call Kristin Hagar at 215-848-1690 or mail your information and payment to her attention, Wyck Historic House & Garden, 6026 Germantown Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19144.

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