FAMILY FUN FOR THE PICKING, AT PARKER’S

parker-homestead-2007-500x375The historic Parker Homestead in Little Silver will be the setting for two Community Blackberry Picking events, scheduled for July 19 and 26.

Press release from Parker Homestead 1665

One of New Jersey’s oldest standing dwellings invites local families to put down the smartphones and pick up some blackberries  — during a First-Ever Community Blackberry Pick at Little Silver’s Parker Homestead.

Up to 50 families will be able to participate on a first come first come basis, during each of two sessions scheduled for Saturday, July 19 and Saturday, July 26. Picking times are between 8 am and 12 pm each day, and rain dates for both events are scheduled for the following Sundays (July 20 and 27).

Little Silver residents will be provided priority registration, starting now through Saturday, July 12. Space permitting, non-residents may register beginning Sunday, July 13.  Parker Homestead trustees and volunteers will provide containers or “pickers” can bring their own. Comfortable working clothes and shoes and a broad brimmed hat are recommended. Ice chilled bottled water and favorite Sickles and Parker family recipes will be available to families.

The Blackberry Pick comes as restoration has begun to preserve the three barns on the historic Homestead. The National Historic site has been in the same family since 1665. That was the year after England took control of a previous Dutch colony, a portion of which would be renamed New Jersey. The English were eager to populate this new territory, offering land grants to new settlers.

Two brothers – Quakers Peter and Joseph Parker – traveled from Rhode Island and acquired 420 acres that stretched between the present-day Navesink and Shrewsbury rivers and included the remaining 10-acre property that is the Parker Homestead.

The pre-Revolutionary structures on the property date to the 1720s and were home to members of the Parker family. Upon her death in 1995, Julia Parker — the last of eight generations of the same family to occupy the home — gifted the property to the borough of Little Silver, with the stipulation it be preserved as a historic landmark and for historic educational purposes.  Restoration and cleanup of the farmhouse began soon after and since has resulted in repairs to the flooring and removal of ceiling plaster, which revealed thick wooden beams original to the earliest portion of the house. A Colonial five-foot high fireplace, big enough for several people to stand in, was also uncovered.

Inside the barns, members of the organization have discovered tools, farm implements and artifacts, which include a 1960s truck with ‘Parker Farms’ painted on the side and a 1965 Chevy owned by Julia Parker. Some of the farm implements from the property are already on display for a Monmouth County Historical Association exhibit on early farming, Farm: Agriculture in Monmouth County 1600-2013. For more details visit www.monmouthhistory.org

There will be a donation jar on site to help support the restoration of the Parker Homestead-1665, a 501 C 3 not-for-profit. To sign up for the pick, email Bonnie Akey at BonW@aol.com.

In addition to the grants, the trustees of the Parker Homestead 1665, Inc. are planning a fundraising event on Saturday, September 13 in conjunction with the Monmouth County Historical Association and Sickles Market, Little Silver. The party will include a reception with tours of the historic Parker Homestead, a tented farm-to-table community dinner, starlight dancing to live music, live and silent auctions and a 50/50 raffle. Underwriting and sponsorships are available. Please call Laurie Bratone, Development Director for Monmouth County Historical Association, at (732)462-1466 x20 for further details and information.