Nobody knows how to harvest party like the Dutch.
The Wyckoff House Museum celebrated the harvest season with its second-annual Country Fair on Sept. 21, where kids were regaled with thrilling tales of black cowboys and taught the secret to making extra-tasty, extra-virgin apple cider, like Dutch kids would have been doing around the same time and place 300 years ago — almost.
“This is the only country in the world where you don’t immediately say ‘hard’ when you’re talking about cider,” said the Wyckoff House’s senior docent and resident apple guru. “But the sweet cider didn’t start until the mid 19th century.”
The Wyckoff House’s relatively young Country Fair actually grew out of its 8-year-old Apple Fest, which was changed after decision makers at the museum — formerly a farm house belonging to the 17th-century Wyckoff family of Dutch immigrants — decided to branch out and explore other, non-cider related forms of agriculture.
“We decided we wanted to bring in other elements,” said Melissa Branfman, director of education at the Wyckoff Museum. “But that doesn’t mean we’re not still pressing cider.”
As per the opportunities afforded by the museum’s less-apple-intensive focus, the festival now includes attractions of a decidedly progressive, agrarian nature that would have been the envy of any struggling Dutch farmer.
For instance, the Wyckoff House now boasts a solar-powered hydroponic grow system, courtesy of the Sustainable Flatbush and Boswyck Farms groups, which uses the exciting power of the sun to circulate nutrients to hungry vegetables.
Sustainable Flatbush, a group that promotes sustainable living practices in Brooklyn, also came to the fair with some nifty, eco-friendly gadgets, including a bicycle-powered blender and a solar-powered oven.
Aside from demonstrations of urban farming, the fair included some events that were merely for fun, including face painting, a how-to on the making of wampum, colonial carnival games, and pony rides courtesy of Izell Glover, who helped found the Federation of Black Cowboys.
“It was a lot of fun,” said Branfman. “The sun came out for us, and everybody seemed to have a great time.”