Landis Valley

We’ve all seen the television programs where the well-known chef prepares a vintage meal using only period-correct equipment and techniques.  Or, maybe we’ve gone to Colonial Williamsburg and watched the 18th Century foodways in the taverns, kitchens, and gardens. At Landis Valley Village and Farm Museum, north of Lancaster, PA, you can do more than just observe

“We are always looking for people who are interested,” said Shayla Carey, Landis Valley’s media contact.  Nearly two dozen volunteer interpreters bring life into the village’s buildings and gardens.

Landis Valley exhibits and interprets Pennsylvania’s German culture between 1750 and 1940, and invites visitors to experience rural life through a singular collection of artifacts, animals, and buildings staffed by those costumed interpreters and craftspeople.

Volunteer Interpreters Bring Life to the Village

The Log Farm, a focus of living history activities, has an 18th Century log home, a separate bake house and smokehouse, a pig sty, spring house, sheep pasture, and a 19th Century Swiss bank barn occupied by two gargantuan cattle.  Built in traditional German style, the cabin has a long, open hearth and plenty of workspace in the kitchen.

“We look for volunteers for the living history,” said Carey.  “They get hands-on learning. Jayne Westley is our Volunteer Coordinator.”

Landis Valley Museum is also the home of the Heirloom Seed Project, focusing on preserving seeds from significant heirloom varieties of vegetables, herbs, and ornamentals.

On October 13 and 14, 2018, Landis Valley celebrates its Harvest Days, the museums’ oldest and biggest festival.  Visitors can enjoy demonstrations, crafts, wagon rides, a pumpkin patch, and foods that will immerse you in the Pennsylvania German traditions.  For more information about Landis Valley Village and Farm Museum, visit their Website at, or call 717-569-0401.


Zwiwwelbrot (Onion Bread)

Recipe by permission from the Landis Valley Cookbook

3 or 4 medium onions

2 cups pastry flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup buttermilk

3 tablespoons butter

1/4 cup lard

1 teaspoon baking soda

Assorted fresh or dried herbs for topping, such as parsley, savory, and dill


Peel and finely chop the onions. Fry in the butter until soft but not browned.  Set aside; don’t drain the onions. Mix the salt and flour; then cut in the lard to make it crumbly. Mix in the baking soda and buttermilk, just until the buttermilk is incorporated. Spread the dough out into two lightly greased 8-inch cake pans. Divide the onions between the two loaves and sprinkle the herbs on top. Bake at 375 degrees until lightly browned, about 20 minutes.(Don’t substitute regular flour for pastry flour, which is available at gourmet food stores.)

Reed Hellman is a professional writer living in Alberton, Maryland. Visit his Website at, or email your questions and comments to



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