Kelley Farm: Lead Release

For immediate release

Release dated: 
February 18, 2014
Media contacts: 

Jessica Kohen, Marketing and Communications, 651-259-3148,
Lory Sutton, Marketing and Communications, 651-259-3140,

Kelley Farm: Lead Release

State’s Historic Kelley Farm in Need of Renovation, Expansion
$10.5 million legislative request would help to tell Minnesota’s farm stories statewide

St. Paul, Minn. - The Minnesota Historical Society is asking the state Legislature to support a $10.5 million capital budget request to fund a much needed renovation and expansion of the Oliver H. Kelley Farm in Elk River so it can better serve students, teachers, tourists and Minnesota families with meaningful, hands-on experiences.

Located along the Mississippi River just northwest of the Twin Cities, the Kelley Farm welcomes nearly 30,000 visitors a year, including 15,000 students on field trips from more than 60 Minnesota school districts across the state. A National Historic Landmark, it operates as a working 1860s farm on the homestead of Oliver H. Kelley, founder of the first successful national farming organization, the Grange.

“The Kelley Farm provides a unique opportunity for young learners to understand first-hand what is meant by farm-to-table agriculture” said MNHS CEO and Director Steve Elliott. “The ongoing development of agriculture and its importance to the state of Minnesota and to today’s global economy is a story too few children understand.”

Each year the farm is forced to turn away field trips for 4,000 students due to space limitations and outdated facilities. The $10.5 million capital budget request will create a visitor center and help build programs to accommodate the growing number of Minnesotans coming to learn about farming and food in the past, present and future.

Oliver H. Kelley Farm Revitalization Plan

The plan includes:

  • Tripling the size of the aging visitor center to include expanded exhibit and public program space, engaging classrooms, a teaching kitchen and modern restrooms. In addition, the building will feature updated technology, including videoconferencing and internet access that will enable the farm's programming to reach schools throughout Minnesota, making the farm an extension of our state's classrooms.
  • Overhauled maintenance support areas, a "guest animal shelter" for visiting livestock, and a multi-purpose shelter to serve as a community rental space and lunch area for school children.
  • Expanded programming offered year-round to serve Minnesota's families and schools, as well as tourists.
  • Environmentally sustainable features that will keep operating and maintenance costs at nearly current levels despite the proposed expansion.

With new investment, the Kelley Farm will be able to serve even more students, teachers, tourists and Minnesota families each year as they learn about Minnesota’s leading role in the history of agriculture and how it reaches every part of our lives today, from the clothing we wear, to the fuel we use in our cars, to the food we eat.

About the Minnesota Historical Society

The Minnesota Historical Society is a non-profit educational and cultural institution established in 1849. The Society collects, preserves, and tells the story of Minnesota’s past through museum exhibits, libraries and collections, historic sites, educational programs and book publishing. Using the power of history to transform lives, the Society preserves our past, shares our state’s stories and connects people with history.

The Minnesota Historical Society is supported in part by its Premier Partners: Xcel Energy and Explore Minnesota Tourism.