News from Garfield Farm
Garfield Farm Museum will hold its 21st
Annual Rare Breeds Livestock & Poultry Show and Sale on Sunday May
20 from 11am - 4pm. The only show if its type held in Illinois,
looks at the loss of genetic diversity amongst domestic animals that
humans have depended upon for food, fiber, and work for hundreds of
years. For many visitors to the show it is the first and perhaps last
time in their lives they might ever see some of these highly endangered
breeds. Many of the exhibitors are also members of the American
Livestock Breeds Conservancy that is celebrating their 30th year.
In our country there is a growing divide between its citizens and the farmers who grow their food. The population of farmers is greatly decreasing, and with it not only a way of life, but also a large piece of our national heritage and identity. We lose a part of our historic architecture with every farmhouse that is torn down or for every barn that is allowed to fall down. There is a wide variety of produce that is now longer available to the general public. Historic breeds of livestock are not excluded from this predicament.
Over the years, the economics have changed, and the mass market once left to the individual, now controls what animals are used on a farm. Animals, like produce, all served a unique purpose. For example, a breed of chicken may have been used for laying eggs, as opposed for its meat. Some breeds have not served a modern purpose or have had undesirable traits, and are simply not used any more.
Losing these animals is not only a problem of losing part of our culture, but also genetic diversity, which someday be needed. If a disease were to strike at a modern animal, there may be a historic or antique breed that is not susceptible. There would potentially be a crisis if there were no genetics to turn to. This is why preserving these breeds is not just a novelty. Breeders are invited to exhibit their animals at the museum with a chance to meet other breeders and prospective buyers. Pens, water, and bedding are provided by the museum just bring feed and any information, displays, products, demonstrations, or lectures related to the breeds being shown.
Garfield Farm Museum is a 370-acre farmstead and former teamster inn that is being restored by volunteers and donors from around the nation as an 1840s working farm. The historic barns are the perfect setting to display and view historic breeds of farm animals. See livestock in the 1849 horse barn and in the 1842 hay and grain barn. The farm’s flock of rare Black and White Javas live in a chicken house reproduced from plans from an 1848 issue of the Prairie Farmer Magazine. In addition to seeing the animals, visitors and exhibitors can tour the 1846 Teamster Inn and Tavern, watch demonstrations of sheep shearing, wool spinning, or enjoy refreshments from Inglenook Pantry.
The museum, celebrating its 30th anniversary, is located 5 miles west of downtown Geneva, IL, off of ILL Rt. 38, on Garfield Road. Donations are $6 per adult and $3 for children under 12. Breeders interested in showing or selling their rare animals at the show are invited to contact the museum for more information. There are no registration fees for exhibitors. For information call (630) 584-8485, visit the museum’s web site at www.garfieldfarm.org or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.