YORK – With the dream of Dave Wessels consistently in mind, Wessels Living History Farm has received a gift to help make educating about agriculture’s past more modern.
The farm, which was established as a living, working farm celebrating agriculture’s past, was recently awarded a gift from Kelly and Virginia Holthus to create an education center. “We need to offer and combination of history with new technology, and teach kids how to make those connections,” said Vicki Northrop, Director of Wessels Living History Farm. “My goal is to be move forward without forgetting our past”.
Plans for the building are underway. The ultimate goal is to bring agricultural education to more people through incorporating technology for learning opportunities like technology for presentations and online classes. “My hope is to become like a feeder program for the ag programs in the state,” Northrop said. “We’re hoping to bring some of their activities here, and [the donation] will help us do that.”
In addition to technology, plans for a kitchen in the facility – as well as other elements – will help share Wessels’ message. Northrop said the kitchen will offer cooking classes and the opportunity for kids to make connections between the farm’s garden and how food gets on their plates.
The building will give the farm more space for storage and display, as some of the buildings are getting short on space, Northrop said.
Another plan for the facility is to offer another place for gatherings. Wessels hosts weddings and other events already, but an indoor reception-type facility would add an option should there be inclement weather, including cold winters. “Money from events like receptions go back into the farm towards education,” Northrop said, adding: “We have bills to pay all year long.”
While bills are necessary, the education element of the farm is paramount, and having an indoor space available would make learning experiences available year-round. “We need to be open to the schools so they can have access to us all the time,” Northrop said. The start date for construction is currently fluid; Northrop said she hopes the ball can get rolling this summer to be ready for school activities sometime in the fall. “We want to offer some things here that supplement the classroom.”
Northrop said making the dream of bringing more learning opportunities to all ages is made possible by donations like the Holthus’. “If it weren’t for them we wouldn’t be able to offer this to the citizens of York – and outside the area,” she said. “They’re giving us a way to keep Dave’s dream going.”