DERBY – Youngsters visiting the Orleans County Fair Grounds in Barton this summer will have an opportunity to learn where food comes from thanks to two mini barns built by North Country Career Center Building Trades Students. The class will build two additional ones.
The building trades class, which consists of North Country Union High School and Lake Region Union High School students, meets at the North Country land lab in Derby.
Orleans County Fair Director Roberta Royer got the idea for the barns while searching the Internet two years ago. Several state fairs around the country have similar exhibits.
Youngsters visiting the barns will receive an apron and basket. In one barn, the youngsters will learn how to collect eggs. In another, they will learn how to milk a cow. There will be a sheep barn to demonstrate how people make wool sweaters and socks. The youngsters will visit a grain bin where they will learn how to make soy diesel from soybeans.
None of the animals in the barns will be real.
“Partially because young kids are a little bit apprehensive about touching real animals,” explained Royer. “This gives them the ability to get some hands on experience.”
The exhibit will have garden plots where youngsters will learn how to plant and harvest vegetables. At the end of the exhibit, youngsters will visit a farmers' market where they will learn how to sell the goods they collected for Monopoly money that they can use to buy healthy snacks at a store on the fairgrounds.
Many kids and some adults don’t know where their food comes from even though the region is largely an agricultural community, Royer said.
Royer and her co-director, Mike Tetreault, Vice-President of Poulin Grain, came up with the idea to have the building trades students build the barns, which cost about $800 each. Poulin Grain, Community National Bank, Orleans County Dairy Promotion and Pick & Shovel paid for the barns.
“Fantastic,” is the way Orleans County Fair President Harvey Cleveland described the project. “These days, everybody is not brought up on a farm. This is very educational for them.”
The barns are meant to be at the fairgrounds on a long-term basis, Cleveland said.
The students built the barns in two to three weeks, said building trades instructor Tom Rooney, who liked the project. The project didn’t take away work from local contractors.
Senior Sam Smith enjoyed working on the project. “It’ll be nice to go to the fairgrounds and know I built the barns,” he said.
“I love it,” senior Nate Allen said of the project.
Two of the barns will be moved to the fairgrounds by the end of the week. Two additional ones will be brought down once they are built.
Royer would like to have the barns ready in time for Memorial Day.
The exhibit will be between the old Bad Lands Restaurant and the 4-H Barn.
Royer would like to add additional ones if she can raise more donations. She said she would like to add something about maple syrup and meat products.