The farmhouse dates to at least the 1860s; it was built by Samuel Ruby, who farmed the property for many years. Various tenant farmers later occupied the farmhouse when David Horn owned the farm. The Horn Farm was donated to York County by the Horn family in 1981. It is now used for events, classes, workshops, and offices for Horn Farm Center staff.
The farm family used the summer kitchen for preparing and processing of foods, both for meals in the hot months and for storage of fruits and vegetables for the winter months. The most important part of the summer kitchen was the fireplace and bake oven. The upstairs provided extra bedroom space for family and hired farmhands.
Squirrel Tail Oven
This typical Pennsylvania German type of oven was located outside the fireplace on the exterior wall and featured a flue that started at the back and rose over the top of the oven, mimicking the tail of a squirrel curled over the squirrel’s back, hence the name ‘squirrel tail’ oven. Many delicious baked goods have been produced in our squirrel tail oven by our talented volunteers, and it has become an integral part of Horn Farm Center activities.
Well and Root Cellar
The well was conveniently located near the farmhouse and summer kitchen to provide water for drinking, cooking, washing clothes and other things. Root cellars were very important to the farm family. They kept food cool and at a steady humidity in the summer and prevented stored vegetables and fruits from freezing in the winter months.
19th Century Kitchen Garden
Farm kitchen gardens of the 19th century typically included vegetables and herbs planted in neat rows and not grown in large quantities. This garden uses a four-square design, typical of the period. Some vegetables commonly planted in kitchen gardens included horseradish, cabbage, beans, radishes and lettuce.
York Imperial Apple Tree
The York Imperial apple tree was developed by a local clockmaker, Jonathan Jessop, who was looking for a good tasting fruit with a relatively long shelf life. York Imperial apples are still grown commercially.
Our Sentinel Tree, a native oak tree donated by a local nursery, was planted on March 18, 2008 in a colorful ceremony to celebrate the formal opening of the Horn Farm Center. Local and state government representatives, as well as local historical society members, participated in the program activities of this inaugural event.
Our Community Garden plots are rented to gardeners looking for good land on which to grow vegetables and flowers in small quantities for use at home or to share with others. The Community Gardens project began in 2009 and has grown to its current size of 102 plots, each 20 ft. x 20 ft.
Springs typically provided water for domestic and farm needs for early farmsteads. Several springs are present on the Horn Farm. The spring at the northern edge of the field above the farmhouse was an early and abundant source of water for the Horn farmhouse and barn, and was piped down through the field. Remnants of the pipe were found when the water line from the spring to the Community Gardens was installed.
From our lookout platform (built as an Eagle Scout Service Project by Ben Dannels of Boy Scout Troop 49 in Hellam) you can view 120 acres of the Horn Farm farmed by the Flinchbaugh family, who lease the land from the Horn Farm to grow corn, soybeans and wheat for wholesale markets. They manage storm water using swales and contour farming. Their farming methods include no till farming and crop rotations.
The greenhouse was constructed in 2013 and provides the opportunity for our incubator farmers to start plants for their farms and for sale to the public. It’s ventilated and, when needed, the heated interior allows for extension of the growing season, so that certain plants such as salad greens can be available to market after the growing season has ended.
J. Crist Memorial Pole Barn
The pole barn was built in 2010 with funds donated by the Dale and Evamae Crist family in honor of their son, Jeffrey Crist. The barn provides storage area for farm equipment, tools and supplies for the incubator farmers, as well as a cooler and other storage space for farm produce. Rainwater collected from the barn roof is piped to the pond for use in incubator farm irrigation.
Corn barns were used, of course, for storing corn, usually intended for feed, flour, or meal. The corn was kept in cribs along either side of the building. The corn barn building is oriented so that the doors take advantage of the wind and form a tunnel which draws air through the building, which aids in the drying process. The large path in the center allowed the tractor and wagon to drive directly into the barn and unload.
The bank barn that stood at this site dated back to the 1860s. It was destroyed by fire in April 2006. Bank barns were built into the side of a slope to allow for easy access to both levels. The upper level often served as the loft, where grain and feed could be stored. The lower level typically functioned as a stable for the animals.
Pawpaws are small trees native to our region’s woods. Their fleshy fruits are flavorful and savored by wildlife and humans alike. Many tasty types of food can be made using pawpaws, such as breads, custards and sauces. Our pawpaw orchard – donated, planted and tended by Richard Bono – features a number of cultivated pawpaw varieties.
Our pond, with a capacity of 70,000 gallons, was constructed in 2012 to provide water for the Incubator Farms. The pond is fed by a water line from the spring north of the farmhouse and by rainwater runoff from the pole barn and corn barn. A pump in the pond sends the water through an irrigation line which has access connections for the incubator farm tracts.
The Incubator Farm Project is designed to ‘grow new farmers’ by offering beginning farmers prime farmland at a reasonable rent for 3 to 5 years and providing necessary infrastructure (water, barn storage, farm equipment, cooler), marketing resources, business planning assistance, and technical training.
Pollinator Friendly Garden
In 2012, Dallas Diehl presented Horn Farm Center with his proposal to plant a pollinator friendly garden as his Eagle Scout Service Project, that would act as a model for other community members trying to build their own pollinator gardens and also help promote pollination throughout the Horn Farm Center and York County. Dallas and his team cleared approx. 1,500 sq. ft. of land full of weeds, laid mulch, planted numerous shrubs, native perennial plants, and larvae host plants, following his well-researched plan. They also installed a stone path, butterfly puddling dishes, and bee boxes, providing shelter and water for pollinators. The garden, completed in 2013, provides food and habitat for native insects which, in turn, provide the pollination needed to protect our plant diversity and food sources.
Our resident beekeeper, Mark Gingrich of Gingrich Apiaries, keeps several beehives that help keep our gardens and farms pollinated. He also coordinates our new Incubator Farms Project Beekeeper Program.
Informal Walking Trail, including our Bluebird Trail
Our Informal Walking Trail is a scenic way to enjoy Horn Farm Center. Along your walk, check out the Squirrel Tail Oven, the Greenhouse, and the Community Gardens. You can also enjoy the Bluebird Trail’s eight bird houses (which may be home to tree swallows and chickadees, as well as bluebirds) added in 2013 as part of Tarisa Kelly’s and McKenna Keller’s Girl Scout Silver Award Project.