Owned and operated by the St. Charles Park District, Primrose is a FREE, family friendly facility. Come on out today to explore restored farm buildings, visit with animals and interpreters, climb up on vintage tractors, and stroll through 100+ acres of historic and modern agricultural landscapes.
Click here for directions and parking information.
Once you’ve arrived and parked your vehicle, you’re ready to start exploring! Read through the below FAQs to get the answers to our most common visitor questions:
Living history farms construct authentic simulations of typical historical sites and populate them with interpreters that re-create the daily routines of representative historical years. This approach allows us to educate and entertain while preserving the past and serving our present community.
Here at Primrose, our specific mission is to show the impact of technology and social change on the lands and farm families of the Fox Valley. Because our site includes one of the original farmsteads established in the St. Charles area in the late 1830s, we discuss over 150 years of agricultural history.
In an effort to focus our interpretation and provide a more cohesive story, we emphasize the years from 1930 to 1940. During this decade, marked by the Great Depression and the start of World War II, agricultural change was widespread. Tractors were replacing draft horse as the main source of agricultural power and, thanks to the Rural Electricifcation Act of 1936, most isolated rural areas were finally getting electricity. This period is particularly fitting for Primrose because many of the smaller agricultural buildings still on-site were built immediately prior to or during this era. Primrose Farmers Ernest and Grace Anderson also remodeled the main 1859 farm house and installed concrete columns throughout the property during this time.
Come out today to explore our one-of-a-kind interactive living history farm!
Not at all. While we operate as a 1930s-focused living history farm and seek to share 150 years of agricultural change over time, you don’t need to be a history buff to visit Primrose.
Our goal is to educate, entertain and connect visitors to our site and our community. We have drop-in programs, parent and child classes, special events, school and scout programs, community garden plots, and several miles of multi-use trails. So, while you can expect to find historic structures and various period and modern agricultural equipment, you’ll also find farm animals to pet, trails to hike, and tractors to climb on.
Because we offer free admission, there is not a ticket booth or anywhere to check in. A kiosk by the farm parking lot provides information on upcoming events and programs. After visiting the information kiosk, head into the main farmyard to start your visit.
Whether you have a full day or less than an hour, come on out and experience farm life. The opportunities to learn and play are endless! Visitors can:
- Greet the animals
- Stroll the farmyard
- Take a ride on the tire swing
- Explore the historic barns and buildings
- Say “Hello” to a farmer
- Climb on a tractor
- Walk a trail
- Visit the farmstand
- Become a Junior Farmer
For more information, click here to go to our things to do page.
Most buildings on-site are open to the public, so feel free to explore. If you do see a closed gate or a building marked “Staff Only, ” please refrain from entering without a farmer. These spaces are typically closed for your safety and that of our animals.
Outside of our office in the basement, the main farm house is completely closed to visitors. The first and second floors and the front porch are part of a private residence. We appreciate you being considerate of these closed spaces.
Monday through Saturday, Park District staff and interpreters can typically be found throughout the farmyard. Interact with and observe them as they complete a variety of daily and seasonal farm chores with period and modern equipment. If you’re lucky, you may just catch them milking a cow, processing grain into livestock feed, loading hay into the mow, caring for our fruit orchard, separating cream and making butter, cleaning out the feed lot with a tractor, cooking on the woodstove, or tending the kitchen garden.
The Primrose Farmers are happy to answer your questions about the site and the animals.
If you cannot find a Primrose farmer in the farmyard, stop in to the farm office in the basement of the main 1859 farm house. You can also get our contact information here.
While the livestock at the farm does vary some season-by-season, you can typically expect to find the following breeds of animals at Primrose:
The Jersey breed originated on the Island of Jersey, a small British island in the English Channel. The Jersey is one of the oldest dairy breeds, having been reported by authorities as being purebred for nearly six centuries. They were brought to the United States in the 1850s.
There is no more appealing dairy animal than the well-balanced Jersey cow. She is usually docile and rather easy to manage. Jersey cows have an extreme weight range of between 800 and 1200 pounds, but medium-sized cows are usually preferred. With an average weight of 900 pounds, the Jersey produces more pounds of milk per pound of body weight than any other breed. Most Jerseys produce far in excess of 13 times their bodyweight in milk each lactation.
Belgian Draft Horses
The Belgian, as the name implies, is native to the country of Belgium. The breed is characterized by a husky, barrel-like appearance and brute strength. It is generally sorrel or chestnut in color, stands just under 17 hands (68 inches) and weighs over 2,000 pounds. They are one of the strongest of the heavy breeds and are known for their even temperament.
The American Association was officially founded in February of 1887. It was slow going for the Belgian until after the turn of the 20th century. In terms of promotion the Percheron, Clydesdale and Shire all enjoyed a substantial head start in this country.
In 1903, the government of Belgium sent an exhibit of horses to the St. Louis World Fair and the International Livestock Exposition in Chicago. From that point forward the breed’s acceptance and imports of breeding stock grew steadily. The onset of World War I in 1914 brought all importations to a complete halt. Suddenly, American Belgian breeders were on their own. Primrose Farm took up the challenge, breeding and selling Belgians all through the war and into the 1920s.
The Shropshire breed of sheep originated in Shropshire and Staffordshire, England in 1848. They were first imported into the United States about 1855. Their adaptability to all kinds of pasture land, hardiness to withstand our variable climate, close, oily wool to shield them from the snows and sleet, their longevity and prolificacy and many other outstanding qualities made them widely popular in the States. During the 1920’s and 1930’s the Shropshire was easily the most popular and the most influential sheep breed in the United States.
Today’s Shropshire is one of the better dual-purpose breeds adapted to farm conditions. Shropshires are a medium sized sheep which produce lambs that are hardy, vigorous and meaty. They are one of the heaviest wool producers among the medium-wool breeds. The fleece is dense and elastic to the touch, light shrinking and of a quality which is readily marketable. They are gentle in disposition, making them perfect for the farm flock or as a club project for children.
Columbian Wyandotte Chickens
Columbian Wyandottes are an unusual and attractive variety. They have the same deep, well rounded bodies and close set comb of all Wyandottes, and are of medium size. Appearance is handsome with white bodies, and contrasting neck, tail, and wing plumage which are black with silvery white edging. Their nice yellow skin and plump bodies make them easy to dress and they lay brown eggs. The hens make excellent setters and mothers. Baby chicks are a creamy white and some have dark gray shading on the back.
This variety was first exhibited at the Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893 and got their name in that way.
Nigerian Dwarf Goats
Nigerian Dwarf goats originated in West Africa and were brought to the United States in the 1950s. They come in a wide variety of colors, and the females (called does) can carry up to four babies (called kids) at a time.
Nigerian Dwarf goats must be under 22.5 inches tall for does and under 23.5 inches tall for bucks. They generally weigh around 75 pounds when fully grown. Nigerian Dwarf goat milk has a high butterfat content and is popular for making cheese, soap, and cream.
Nigerian Dwarf goats are gentle, intelligent, and can make good pets.
Miniature donkeys originated in Africa and were brought to the Mediterranean islands of Sicily and Sardinia to work. They were used for pulling carts, carrying packs, and other light farm work. Mini donkeys were brought to the United States in 1929 by Robert Green, a New York stockbroker who owned a farm in New Jersey.
Miniature donkeys must be under 36 inches in height at the withers (shoulders). They can be conditioned to carry up to 100 pounds, and are extremely friendly, affectionate, and intelligent. They now function mainly as companion animals and pets, although they are still used as working animals in some areas of the United States.
Each animal on the farm has a special diet created just for them. We appreciate you leaving their feeding to the farmers. If you are interested in learning more about feed and trying your hand at afternoon chores, come on out for our Feed the Animals drop-in class. This behind-the-scenes experience gives participants the chance to feed all the animals that call Primrose home.
If you can reach an animal without entering a “Staff Only” area like a pasture or yard, you may pet them. Many of our larger animals – horses, cows and sheep – will come right up to the fence to greet you. You can also pet the cows when they’re in their stanchions in the main dairy barn. See a calf in a maternity pen or pasture? Feel free to say “hello” and give it a scratch. Just remember, our animals do occasionally move unexpectedly, so do not put your hands, arms or heads between an animal and a fence or gate. If you have questions about who you can pet and why or why not, ask a Primrose farmer.
Consider the Animal Sponsorship Program. Your donation helps offset the cost of caring for and feeding livestock, fosters community involvement in Primrose Farm operations, and furthers the educational mission of Primrose Farm through its livestock program. Animal sponsorship includes an entire flock or herd – not an individual animal. More information can be found on the form here.
Yes. You are encouraged to picnic at the farm. We typically have a few tables in the main farmyard with additional seating available in the grass circle near the parking area. After your picnic, please dispose of all trash and recyclable items in the containers provided.
Unfortunately no, but there is a tire swing located near the main farm house. There are also tractors to climb on and lots of room to run around and explore. If you are looking for a playground nearby, there is a small play structure near the Spriet Fields at Primrose Farm Park. Located just north of us at the corner of Crane Road and Bolcum Road, Primrose Farm Park is connected to Primrose Farm via our multi-use trail system.
We have vault toilets at the farm. They’re open year round and stocked with hand sanitizer and toilet paper. Why do we have a vault toilet? Outhouses were the norm in rural areas in the 1930s. Our original outhouse is in what’s now the chicken coop yard. Ask a farmer to check it out!
Please note, we do not have running water for public handwashing or drinking. If the provided hand sanitizer is not sufficient for your family’s needs, we recommend packing baby wipes or something comparable. If you’ll be visiting in the summer and/or staying for several hours, we suggest bringing a full water bottle for each member of your group.
If you have additional questions about the facilities, contact us at 630-513-4370.