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The Homestead Heritage in Waco, Texas

The Homestead Heritage Gristmill.  A variety of flours and baking mixes are made and sold there.

The Homestead Heritage Gristmill. A variety of flours and baking mixes are made and sold there.

Contact Information And Hours

The Homestead Heritage community is open from 10 AM to 6 PM Monday through Friday. On Saturday, the restaurant opens early at 7 AM for workshop participants. If you want to wander around the grounds early before the shops are open, that is allowed as well. There is plenty to investigate if you are curious. Guided tours are also available, just call in advance.

Here is the address and phone number:

Halbert Lane
Elm Mott, TX
(254) 754-9600

Web address: http://www.homesteadheritage.com

The Homestead Heritage Community and Crafts Village are located a few miles north of Waco on Gholson Road. This village is situated on a 510-acre site where traditional agriculture, hand craft work and training in these homesteading skills are offered. The community was established by Anabaptist followers who live simply and walk their faith in the path of Christian fellowship. They carry their Christian values in their work and with others, making it an intentional community.

The community contains many craftsmen and women who are very willing to teach their skills to others. They offer seminars and workshops throughout the year. Below, I share photos from this village and discuss some of the things a visitor will see while they are there. Contact information and a map on how to get there can be found at the bottom of this article. And then there are even more photos!

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The store/renovated barn which contains traditional crafts and books for teaching children.

The store/renovated barn which contains traditional crafts and books for teaching children.

Floor and whisk brooms and flyswatters in the craft store.  You can also find interesting walking sticks and canes there.

Floor and whisk brooms and flyswatters in the craft store. You can also find interesting walking sticks and canes there.

Entering the Homestead Village

Upon passing the entrance sign shown above, there is a parking lot to the right. On each side of the parking lot are a restaurant and a crafts store. To the right is a photo of the crafts store. The restaurant, which is open for lunch during weekdays and for breakfast and lunch on Saturday mornings, has many deli-like offerings for about $9 per plate. You can also opt to buy sides, like sweet potatoes, potato salad and beans for $3 each to make a more simple meal if you wish. The restaurant also offers sweet and savory whole grain breads. On Thanksgiving holidays, they also have special meals. The wait staff is very attentive, and I can highly recommend the peach tea for a drink.

The craft store has a wide range of handmade gifts available, including carvings painted to resemble feathers, carved birds (see duck below), deer antler back scratchers, pottery, woodwork, brooms, books for teaching children, soaps and candles, wrought ironwork and items made from their loom-made fabric, including clothing and dish towels. An example of their handiwork with straw and sticks to make brooms is shown on the right. Purchase of the items helps support this interesting community, and, they would make priceless gifts for someone special.

The Forge

While I was visiting, I talked spent over an hour with the blacksmith and watched him take a steel rod and make it into a spoon. The whole process of heating the coal, heating the steel and forging it into shape took about an hour. An introductory seminar in blacksmithing was given in September, but I got a free lesson by sticking around and being patient while other visitors whisked in and out of the building. I also noted that the airy building remains cool even though the fire is going the whole time. Blacksmithing is a noisy job, too. The blacksmith noted that he normally wears ear plugs to protect his hearing when he is not doing public demonstrations.

Blacksmith forging the spoon handle.

Blacksmith forging the spoon handle.

Finished spoons and axe heads made at the Homestead Heritage forge.

Finished spoons and axe heads made at the Homestead Heritage forge.

Blacksmith Beating Out The Spoon Bowl

The Fiber Crafts Building

The fiber crafts building is where they home-spin yarn and weave fabrics of varying complexity on different looms. There must be at least ten looms in this building, three of which were being used during my visit. Kate, perhaps the senior person in charge, patiently and enthusiastically explained the process of how looms work and showed me their home-made yarn spinner that is made from a bicycle wheel. There is even a loom that was built from a complex Chinese design in the shop. Very intricate work can be done by someone who is skilled with this loom. They make some very beautiful textiles here. Kate is shown below in the photo to the right. A weaving demonstration video from another fiber crafts worker is shown below that.

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Several of the looms in the busy textile building at Homestead Heritage.

Several of the looms in the busy textile building at Homestead Heritage.

A Weaving Demonstration

The Woodworking Shop

There was a woodworking class in session when I visited on Saturday. They teach beginning techniques to advanced woodworking - without power tools, of course. For those interested in advanced woodworking, you can take a class in how to make a Windsor Chair and other items requiring complex joinery. The building that houses the woodworking shop is quite large, so it can accommodate quite a few participants. Below are two photos, one of the shop and another of the chairs that can be made by those who take advanced classes.

One side of the roomy woodworking shop.

One side of the roomy woodworking shop.

A Windsor chair is featured to the left.  The other rocking chair style is unknown.

A Windsor chair is featured to the left. The other rocking chair style is unknown.

Frank Strazza from The Woodworking Shop

More Photos of Homestead Heritage

Building adjoining the herb garden.  Plants are labeled to help educate those who don't know the plant varieties.  This garden is situated between the grist mill and the textile building.

Building adjoining the herb garden. Plants are labeled to help educate those who don't know the plant varieties. This garden is situated between the grist mill and the textile building.

A model homestead that has its own water tower, a silo, two barns, a smokehouse and a garden with poultry pens.  There is also a room to see a video about the community with this area.

A model homestead that has its own water tower, a silo, two barns, a smokehouse and a garden with poultry pens. There is also a room to see a video about the community with this area.

Map for Getting to Homestead Heritage

Summary of The Homestead Heritage Experience

The whole Homestead Heritage experience is impressive. There are a lot of hardworking and friendly people here who will explain in detail anything you want to know about them and their crafts. It would be best to visit at different times of the year to see what is growing in their gardens and how the different seasons affects their work patterns. Visits are free, so that shouldn't be a barrier to stopping by. There is a little of everything here, so a visit here is likely to please and pique the interest of most people. I highly recommend stopping by and visiting with the craftspeople as well.

Below, I have a few more photos. Note that it was a bit foggy when I visited in late October. It was a pleasant time to visit, but the early morning lighting was not the best for photos. The conditions improved to partly cloudy later that morning.

The entrance to the Homestead Heritage village, where a restaurant, craft store and workshops are all nearby. "Brazos de Dios" is Spanish for "the arms of God," a name given to the Waco area describing the rivers that meet here.

The entrance to the Homestead Heritage village, where a restaurant, craft store and workshops are all nearby. "Brazos de Dios" is Spanish for "the arms of God," a name given to the Waco area describing the rivers that meet here.

The Assassin Bug larvae on one pomegranite shrub fascinated me for a  while.  They practice organic agriculture, so you can see predator insect species doing their job.

The Assassin Bug larvae on one pomegranite shrub fascinated me for a while. They practice organic agriculture, so you can see predator insect species doing their job.

And...More Photos of Homestead Heritage

A cornucopia of items offered for sale at the gristmill.

A cornucopia of items offered for sale at the gristmill.

A striking flower observed near the gristmill.

A striking flower observed near the gristmill.

An animal-powered sweet sorghum mill.

An animal-powered sweet sorghum mill.

An intricately carved and painted Pintail duck

An intricately carved and painted Pintail duck

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