The Homestead Heritage in Waco, Texas
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:
Elm Mott, TX
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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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.
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 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.
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.
Frank Strazza from The Woodworking Shop
More Photos of Homestead Heritage
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.