For the past decade, Angelica Torres and Rudy Volenec have made the five-hour drive from Miami to Gainesville to travel back in time.

Sitting in two rocking chairs, Torres, 71, and Volenec, 65, admired how peaceful Florida in the 1870s was at the Morningside Nature Center on Saturday morning. The married couple sometimes bring their grandchildren to breathe in fresh air at the center’s Living History Farm for a monthly Living History Day. The all-day event, which is free to the public, is on the first Saturday of every month from September through May and has been hosted since the farm opened in 1976.

“We came here for the biscuits,” Volenec said of the homemade biscuits historical actors prepared at the Living History Day.

The actors showed what life was like on a farm in the 1800s, from pressing sugarcane to making a glaze for the biscuits to churning butter.

Bricky Way, a 47-year-old Gainesville resident and the event organizer, said the actors show how difficult life was before technological innovations.

“It’s important for them to realize the amount of work that goes into daily life,” he said.

George Chappell, a 78-year-old Gainesville resident, demonstrated how to use a corn sheller, which removes kernels from a cob. He said some aspects of Gainesville haven’t changed since that time period.

“Gainesville stayed an agricultural community,” Chappell said.

Visitors can:

  • Feed chickens, sheep and a cow
  • Pump water
  • Shell corn
  • Harvest the center’s garden
  • Tour a one-room schoolhouse
  • See tools from an blacksmith’s barn
  • Walk through a home, which includes a working kitchen