WATSONVILLE—A buggy that once transported people along the streets of San Jose in the 1880s and ‘90s is now on display at the Agricultural History Project, restored and with a fresh coat of paint.
Hassan Zamani, who has volunteered with the AHP for two years, took charge of the restoration. Such projects are common at AHP, located at the Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds. But for Zamani, it was his first project with the organization and it taught him a great deal.
“I have been learning as I go, step by step, little by little,” he said. “You take your time so it can turn out perfect.”
CEO John Kegebein said that they procured the buggy between 2000 and 2005 after the Santa Clara County Historical Society lost a lease at one of its warehouses.
“They had to get rid of lots of equipment,” Kegebein said. “We went up there right away… we saw this buggy and two others. It’s been in storage… until Hassan came along.”
AHP is buzzing with activity even in the winter. Scores of volunteers can often be found in and around its barns and offices, working on projects and organizing events.
One event is 2nd Saturday on the Farm, which invites the public to visit AHP and learn about farming history every second Saturday of the month.
There is always something new at 2nd Saturday on the Farm. A current draw is an extensive model train set, temporarily installed by a man from Los Gatos inside the Codiga Center & Museum. The set features five trains, houses, moving carnival rides and a McDonald’s restaurant. Some pieces date back to the 1920s.
In addition, a new exhibit displaying a large milk bottle collection (plus butter churners, scales, dippers, cans and more) is being set up in the museum. Kegebein said it is vital to preserve the history of the local dairy industry—which was once big in the region.
Kegebein revealed that the organization recently received a $20,000 “challenge grant” from Don and Diane Cooley. This means that if AHP raises $20,000, the couple will raise that in turn. So far they have raised $12,000.
“We want to build up our endowment,” Kegebein said. “We’ve started a 4H club, and we’re expanding our site. Our mission is about the past but also the present… we want to preserve history but look at the future of farming and how people get their food.”
For volunteers like Zamani, AHP is a place to let their passion grow. He has already started working on another buggy—restoring the carpet and upholstery, rebuilding the structure to bring it back to its former glory.
“I like to build and create,” Zamani said. “I don’t like to waste time on my phone or TV. I like being outside and working here. It’s fulfilling.”
To donate to AHP call the office at 724-5898 or Kegebein directly at 566-2817. The next 2nd Saturday on the Farm will be held Feb. 8. For information visit aghistoryproject.org.