A Tribute to Farming’s Past, Present and Future

May 7, 2012 03:30 AM


As the general population becomes further removed from the farm, the agriculture community clings tightly to their heritage. One Iowa group seeks to build a bridge between the two, showing the progress farmers have made over centuries and the daunting challenge they have of growing food to feed the world’s expanding population.
The Hearltand Acres Agribition Center strives to connect Iowans with their past and inspire dreams in generations of the future. Nestled on 16 acres of land in Independence, Iowa, which was donated by local businessman Jim Blin, this interactive agriculture museum took more than seven years to become the beautifully maintained facility it is today.
The facility not only features an agricultural museum, but an events center and theatre as well.
In 2003 when Buchanan County locals began to realize the amount, quality and importance of the rooms of "junk," as it was called by many, their historical society had been collecting, several decided it was time to do something. "It was all just sitting up in rooms at the fairgrounds," says Craig Johnson who now serves as the facility's executive director. "We wanted to find a way for the community to enjoy and learn from it." A group of businessmen, lead by Johnson, put their heads together and met once a week to find a good use for the community treasures. Three years later their brainstorming started to become reality.
Johnson says when they decided to build the center; there was strong community support from the beginning.  The facility made possible by donations from the city of Independence, Buchannan County, a CAT grant from the state of Iowa and countless private individuals, went under construction in 2006.
The barn that encompasses the majority of the center’s campus stands 43 feet tall and was designed after 1800’s style barns located throughout Buchanan County. Construction took about one year and was a community effort. "The local old order Amish actually helped us build the barn," Johnson says.
Students visitors love seeing the animals. I missed getting to see a group of 5th and 6th graders bottle feed this calve.
Heartland Acres launched in 2007 after years of determination and hard work. Johnson says he believes it has the ability to make a difference. "This is truly a perfect place to tell the story of agriculture," he says beaming from ear to ear with pride. However, it was a slow start Johnson adds. "We opened and then we sat waiting for the masses to come," he says. "Guess what, it takes a while."
This year Heartland Acres will celebrate its 200,000th visitor this year and its five year anniversary. Governed by a 12 member board of directors, the museum is making a positive impact on the community Johnson says, offering perspective to adults and children alike who might have never even seen a cow before they came to visit.
Machine Shed
The machine shed is often a place of nostalgia for visitors. Big Bud, a famous tractor, also resides in this building.
The center is the home to cows, calves, lambs, ponies, chickens and ducks all of which are cared for a part time animal caretaker. Inside the barn, visitors are greeted by one of five volunteers who give time to the exhibit throughout the year. From classic cars to old farm kitchens there is something for everyone to marvel at in the center’s rooms and halls. The walk of history room tells the story of agriculture from mold board plows to biotechnology and everything in between. A machinery shed, home of Big Bud, the famous tractor, and a one-room school house help portray farming’s past and interactive games help visitors imagine farming’s future. "Often times, we don’t know how we got to farming today," Johnson says. "We hope to help tell that story."
Craig Johnson shares more about Heartland Acres in the video below:


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Spell Check

5/9/2012 03:57 AM

  This is a fabulous facility if you are interested in agriculture and history. My tour groups love visiting this location since it's 20 minutes from Waterloo. It is top notch! Lonnie Elmore Waterloo Convention & Visitors Bureau Waterloo, Iowa


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