Agricultural center in Boulder County teaches history, farming throughout the summer
March 31, 2017
Hours of operation
The center will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday-Sunday through Oct. 31. Tours are at 11 a.m., but anyone can do self tours during operating hours. It’s free to attend, and groups can schedule tours year-round.
From Nov. 1-March 31, the center is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. the first Saturday of every month.
Driving west on Colo. 66 in Longmont, Colo., with the view of Mount Meeker and Longs Peak, you'll come across what simply looks like a small farm with two barns, livestock and a house.
But it's a lot more than just a couple of barns, and starting April 1, will be a place for visitors wanting to learn more about agriculture and the history of the industry in the area.
At the Agricultural Heritage Center on the Lohr/McIntosh Farm, 8348 Ute Highway 66, Longmont, Colo., there are activities and guided tours for anyone who is interested in learning more about Boulder County agriculture, the history of the farm and seeing livestock up close.
THE MCINTOSH FAMILY
“A lot of people have a hard time driving by and knowing what’s growing in a field. It would be great to educate people on the different crops.”
In 1868, George McIntosh homesteaded on the property, which he turned into a ranch. The original barn he built in 1881 is still standing, and visitors can go in and see the old milking room. The barn was refurnished, but there have been only minor changes.
His daughter's family built the house on the property. The house Minnie Lohr and her family lived in is set up based on her son, "Shorty," and his memories of what the house looked like growing up. All of the items — minus the plastic food, of course — are true to what would have been in the house in the 1910s.
It was important to keep as true to the history of the house as possible, said Jim Drew, volunteer program specialist for Boulder County Parks and Open Space.
Most of the house came together before Drew was hired as a seasonal employee in 2004, but those involved in getting the museum open for its 2001 opening designed the house based on photos and stories from Shorty about where things were placed — which explains why it seems like a sewing machine was just thrown in the dining room.
That's where Minnie had the machine setup.
Shorty was the one who donated the farm to Boulder County. There was an agreement to preserve the farm, and the museum was an avenue to do just that.
ON THE PROPERTY
Not all of the buildings or structures were part of the original McIntosh or Lohr farm, some were built to look like older structures. There is a giant red barn on the property, known as the Stroh/Dickens Barn, which was relocated to the property from another part of Longmont to preserve the building. In 1998, the barn was lifted and moved to the Lohr farm.
The barn contains a number of hands-on exhibits, including a farmers' market with plastic food, a tractor and a station where they can learn about water, just to name a few.
Drew said the department looks to switch out exhibits every few years, and this summer there will be an interactive milking station where people can learn about milking cows and can try their hand at milking Lohry, a fake but life-sized cow.
There is 265 acres, but most of that is leased out to area farmers. The property the heritage center uses is about 10 acres, with some of that land factoring into future plans and exhibits.
"A lot of people have a hard time driving by and knowing what's growing in a field," Drew said. "It would be great to educate people on the different crops."
That's one plan they have in mind — plots of the land to grow different crops like corn or hay or sugar beets — to educate the public about crops that are important to the county.
The aim of the center is to educate, and with the different groups of people who visit the farm — from elementary school field trip kids to adults who may not farm themselves, but have some sort of familial connection to the industry — there are many different items the center has in place to teach everyone.
The Stroh/Dickens barn is full of interactive and educational items. The livestock are used to show different purposes and livestock breeds in Boulder County.
The livestock includes chickens, miniature ponies and mules, zebu cows, sheep, goats, pigs and two Belgium draft horses. All the livestock are raised and borrowed from farmers and ranchers close by the farm. Visitors learn how they function on a farm, how they are used and to expose them to some animals they might not have seen before, like the zebu which is native to Asia.
Having the animals there is also a way to show kids where their meat comes from, Drew said. Like with pigs, they're more than what some might see as a cute and unorthodox pet. The same goes for the two Belgium draft horses. These are horses used for work, rather than riding.
A lot of the education centers around, not just the historical, but current issues and topics in the agriculture industry.
It's easy when touring to get swept away by the history and learning. But, as Drew pointed out, one of the great things about the place are the scenic views.
If you take time to look at the area, with a ranch to the south, a lake next to the property and a clear view of the mountains to the south, it's easy to see why someone like Drew, who fell into this job after graduating with a history degree, found a place where he's placed his roots. ❖
— Fox is a reporter for The Fence Post. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, (970) 392-4410 or on Twitter @FoxonaFarm.