There are just two Saturdays left in 2020 to visit the Oliver Kelley Farm in Elk River. Located 35 minutes north of Minneapolis, the historic 1860s property once belonged to Oliver Hudson Kelley, founder of the Patrons of Husbandry, a.k.a. the Grange, the first successful national farming organization.
We visited the National Historic Landmark for the first time last Saturday, meeting cows and chickens and sheep and horses. But our favorite part was walking the property’s three nature trails, ranging from 0.8 to 1.1 miles each. The River and Woodland Trail heads upstream along the Mississippi; the Prairie Trail meanders through restored prairie and abandoned farm fields. The fall colors are really starting to pop, especially on the sumac trees, and we saw wild turkeys and a big old buck leaping through the fields — and very few humans once we got away from the barnyard.
Hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on October 10 and 24; timed-entry tickets should be reserved in advance. Tickets are $8 for everyone except Minnesota Historical Society members and children 4 and under; their entry is free. A ticket serves as a grounds pass, granting you free run of the farm’s fields, woodland hiking trails, the upper level of the historic barn, and the victory gardens, whose spoils are being donated to a local food shelf this year. All other buildings — including the farmhouse and visitor center — are temporarily closed.
Note: There are no costumed interpreters right now but the friendly and helpful staff all wore face masks. At least 50 percent of the visitors we saw wore masks when they were near other people. If that makes you nervous, just know that it’s all outdoors and very easy to keep your distance.
Oliver Kelley Farm
15788 Kelley Farm Rd. NW, Elk River, MN; 763-441-6896.