By JASON CAMPBELL
Staff reporter of the
Manteca (Calif.) Bulletin
STOCKTON – Dani Tschantz fell into her interactive Tuleberg Farm Exhibit at the San Joaquin County Fair almost by accident.
It was until she was asked to take over the community garden portion of the fair that she started to realize ways to make the concepts of agriculture appeal to a much younger audience – those who often didn’t grow up on or around farms that produce the food consumers eat at home.
So the Manteca resident rolled up her sleeves and went to work on a concept that would eventually give young children the chance to learn all of the steps necessary to actively work a farm in a fun and interactive way – even going so far as having the children take the items they “harvest” to the market and get “paid” for their efforts.
The entire exhibit – which sits just off to the side of the Fair’s eastern entrance near the Hmong Community Garden – is free to the public, and furnishes the participants with things like stuffed animals and books for completing the cycle.
“I am a big proponent of agriculture on just about any level – even if you live in town you can grow enough food to sustain your family if you set it up right,” Tschantz said of how she got involved with the fair – an entity that exists to promote agriculture among county residents. “By making this something fun that kids can enjoy we’re able to show them a whole different dimension of how they get their food.”
And it wasn’t exactly an easy task to create such an in-depth and hands-on exhibit for youngsters to learn about the hard work needed to not only make food, but to earn something (the food that is harvested is sold and money given to the children is used to buy toys) and spend it at the end of the day.
Even after being at it for nearly a decade, Tschantz still had to start setting up the entire thing almost two weeks before the fair actually opens – on Wednesday, June 25 – by eliciting the help of friends and grandchildren.
A stick-horse racing exhibit is also available (and is sponsored by Manteca’s Book Exchange where Tschantz works part-time) and there will also be a wire-roll horse outfitted with a saddle for kids to sit on, and benches for families to relax in.
“It’s been fun to have my grandchildren out here with me, and seeing the kids have fun and learn something makes this all worth it,” Tschantz said. “Now all we have to do is get ready for the people to come through. That’s the fun part.”
The San Joaquin County fair opens on Wednesday, June 24, and runs through Sunday, June 28, at the San Joaquin County Fairgrounds – located at the intersection of Airport and Charter Way in Stockton. For more information on the fair visit www.sanjoaquinfair.com.
To contact Jason Campbell, e-mail email@example.com, or call (209) 249-3544.