Background
Life on a farm was hard; farm life in those days was not like life today.

The farmer plowed his fields and planted feed for cows, pigs and chickens. They grew hay, corn, vegetables and fruit. They had dirt cellars where they would store carrots and potatoes in dark damp holes for preservation. Apples were also kept down there.

Farmers also had to cut hay—put it on horse-driven wagons and take it to the barn where it was stored for feeding the livestock during the winter. As kids, we loved to jump in the hay. We would go way up in the rafters in the barn and jump! It was not only fun, but scary to jump off backwards!

Farm couples usually had large families since they needed help with the all the chores. There was no TV—sometimes no electricity. The house was heated with wood stoves and we also cooked with wood. In fact, everybody wore long underwear in the winter.

Kids weren’t like they are today—they obeyed their parents with no questions asked.
Life on a farm was fun. ….Reflections from growing up in western New York in the early1900s.

A Century of Hyper-Change
The 21st century has ushered in an avalanche of technological wonders ranging from micro-computers and digital cameras to cellular telephones that play music, guide users to their destination and instantly access information from the world’s great libraries.

New technologies have advanced agriculture far beyond our ancestors’ wildest dreams. Widespread farm mechanization continues to rapidly combine with vast advancements in genetics, pest control and fertilizers making it possible for 1% of our population to produce the food supply for the other 99%.

Arguably, Americans now have the least expensive, safest and most abundant food supply in the history of humankind. And while these revolutionary developments have freed millions from the daily drudgery and chores required to put food on the table, in an evolutionary blink people find themselves separated from the natural world in which humankind evolved in for thousands of years.

This detachment has not been without consequence. At the basic and most obvious level, fewer people than ever understand how or where their food is grown. Without this fundamental understanding of modern agriculture and farming systems, there is no grounding for individuals to identify with their natural environment and source of life-sustaining nutrition. Lacking sufficient information to make common sense opinions and decisions, consumers are easy prey for manipulative and deceptive marketers and special interest groups.

As our world becomes increasingly detached from the food system and its producers, we are witnessing a growing perception that all modern agricultural practices are either destructive to the environment or producing unsafe food, when many times, just the opposite is true. Large numbers of ill-informed consumers using their power in either the marketplace or political arenas can result in public policy and purchasing habits that create the opposite of their intended impact.

At a different level, the alienation of people from their agrarian roots can result in the loss of a sense of awe and wonder of life itself. Additionally, farming requires a set of specific values including hard work, responsibility, respect, stewardship, and ingenuity in order to result in an abundant food supply and healthy environment.

Our mission at the Genesee Valley Farm Discovery Center (GVFDC) is to use agriculture as the context to help regenerate a connection to the natural world, and with it, a respect for life, the environment, and the values that are the underpinnings of great societies.

Our History
Background
Life on a farm was hard; farm life in those days was not like life today.
The farmer plowed his fields and planted feed for cows, pigs and chickens. They grew hay, corn, vegetables and fruit. They had dirt cellars where they would store carrots and potatoes in dark damp holes for preservation. Apples were also kept down there.
Farmers also had to cut hay—put it on horse-driven wagons and take it to the barn where it was stored for feeding the livestock during the winter. As kids, we loved to jump in the hay. We would go way up in the rafters in the barn and jump! It was not only fun, but scary to jump off backwards!
Farm couples usually had large families since they needed help with the all the chores. There was no TV—sometimes no electricity. The house was heated with wood stoves and we also cooked with wood. In fact, everybody wore long underwear in the winter.
Kids weren’t like they are today—they obeyed their parents with no questions asked.
Life on a farm was fun. ….Reflections from growing up in western New York in the early 1900s
A Century of Hyper-Change
The 21st century has ushered in an avalanche of technological wonders ranging from micro-computers and digital cameras to cellular telephones that play music, guide users to their destination and instantly access information from the world’s great libraries.
New technologies have advanced agriculture far beyond our ancestors’ wildest dreams. Widespread farm mechanization continues to rapidly combine with vast advancements in genetics, pest control and fertilizers making it possible for 1% of our population to produce the food supply for the other 99%.
Arguably, Americans now have the least expensive, safest and most abundant food supply in the history of humankind. And while these revolutionary developments have freed millions from the daily drudgery and chores required to put food on the table, in an evolutionary blink people find themselves separated from the natural world in which humankind evolved in for thousands of years.
This detachment has not been without consequence. At the basic and most obvious level, fewer people than ever understand how or where their food is grown. Without this fundamental understanding of modern agriculture and farming systems, there is no grounding for individuals to identify with their natural environment and source of life-sustaining nutrition. Lacking sufficient information to make common sense opinions and decisions, consumers are easy prey for manipulative and deceptive marketers and special interest groups.
As our world becomes increasingly detached from the food system and its producers, we are witnessing a growing perception that all modern agricultural practices are either destructive to the environment or producing unsafe food, when many times, just the opposite is true. Large numbers of ill-informed consumers using their power in either the marketplace or political arenas can result in public policy and purchasing habits that create the opposite of their intended impact.
At a different level, the alienation of people from their agrarian roots can result in the loss of a sense of awe and wonder of life itself. Additionally, farming requires a set of specific values including hard work, responsibility, respect, stewardship, and ingenuity in order to result in an abundant food supply and healthy environment.
Our mission at the Genesee Valley Farm Discovery Center (GVFDC) is to use agriculture as the context to help regenerate a connection to the natural world, and with it, a respect for life, the environment, and the values that are the underpinnings of great societies.<