Guest Post – Heidrick Ag History Center becomes the California Agriculture Museum
The Heidrick Ag History Center has been re-branded as the California Agriculture Museum, in order to better reflect its broad cultural relevance. Giving substantial credit to its founder, Northern California farmer Fred C. Heidrick Sr., the non-profit museum is home to the nation’s most rare collection of California tractors and farm equipment.
The California Ag Museum is nestled in Yolo County which continues to be one of the most agriculturally dominant counties in the state, producing nearly 35 percent of the world’s processing tomatoes.
This museum exhibits the evolution of California farming since the late 1800’s, with more than 100 tractors and another 100 pieces of agricultural artifacts on display.
“We have everything from giant steam driven tractors, to the belt driven and diesel burning metal wheel tractors,” Executive Director Ostman explained, “Following the end of the gold rush era, grain production exploded out here in the West, and pioneer farmers exemplified the true definition of innovation.”
Tractor technology is recognizably the most important aspect of modern farming in the United States; its transformation has enabled farmers to produce more effectively and efficiently to feed the ever growing population.
By the end of the 1800’s California became the leader in agriculture and mechanization; it also leads the way in environmental standards. Paired with the diverse landscape, unique weather and healthy soil, it continues to be the ideal test area for tractor manufacturers. If they can meet the criteria in California, most times they have exceeded demands in the rest of the nation and the rest of the world. Large equipment manufacturers have embraced ideas born on California’s farms, and put the ideas into mass production for worldwide specialized equipment.
Although Ostman explains that the Heidrick name is know as an agricultural giant among farming and ranching communities, the founding family and board of directors recognize that it lacks distinction outside of those circles. How to maintain that local charm while inviting travelers to stop by to learn the California agricultural story has been a major topic of debate for several years.
The founder’s grandson, Rusty Luchessi, is very active in the museum’s affairs as board president, and expressed his support and enthusiasm for the rebranding efforts.
“By changing the name of the museum, we are hoping to emphasize that the collection is a celebration of California’s strong agricultural heritage,” he explained, “It encompasses the diversity of California farms and farming, and spotlights the ingenuity, camaraderie, and general ‘don’t tell me I can’t’ attitude of California farmers. This collection tells that story well.”
“With the rebranding, we can market to a wider demographic, people will have a better understanding of what they will find here,” Ostman added. “The Fred C. Heidrick collection is still the focal point of the museum, but we want our name to better explain what that is.”
“We hear our guests remark that they never imagined the museum was so visually and historically exciting,” she continued, “We have high hopes that that name change will strengthen the museum’s visibility as the landmark it is for California.”
The museum team has partnered with Ag in the Classroom, a federal agriculture educational program that fits in with California common core curriculum.
“We are in the middle of a farm-to-fork healthy eating revolution,” Ostman said, “What better way to teach children and neighbors about the meaning of whole foods than to give them an experience that rationalizes the culture of agriculture. To provide understanding of their roots, and why agriculture is a major player in California’s economic position.”
The museum may be named for California, however, it relies completely on funding from donations, visits and revenue from their onsite event center.
For the last 20 years, the Heidrick Ag History Museum and Event Center has been one of the area’s premiere event venues, inviting clients to host their events in one of four unique rental spaces. The facility has been be rented for weddings, parties, large corporate events both ag related and not, and has been home to annual expositions, car shows and collector events.
As the California Ag Museum moves forward, the non-profit facility will continue to be available for rent to comfortably accommodate events in the large banquet hall, unique agricultural equipment museum, beautifully manicured garden courtyard, and the newly unveiled 45,000 square foot grand exposition facility called the East Wing.
For a special treat, clients have the option of creating a grand entry for their dignitaries by parading them through an edifice adorn by treasures of California’s rich artifacts seated in a Model A, a 1920’s bus, or even a 1925 fire engine.
These venues are available for gatherings small to large — trade shows, large-scale conferences, personal special events, and more — with customizable accommodations to make every booking completely unique.
For more information about the museum, please visit www.CaliforniaAgMuseum.org