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November 30, 2021

Farm history gets new life

WATSONVILLE—Heavy-duty earth-moving equipment rumbled into gear at the Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds over the past week, reshaping a chunk of land at the Agricultural History Project to make way for the expansion of the Living History Farm.

Situated near the entrance of the fairgrounds, the dirt field of almost an acre will extend out from the existing AHP and call for a new Carriage House, livestock pens, an orchard and garden.

Further down the road, an Interpretive Center will be brought into the mix.

“This project has been in the works for several years,” said John Kegebein, CEO of AHP. “We want to further engage our community with our farms and farm life of the past. We especially want to work with the kids in the community where they can come in, get their hands dirty and be a part of history.”

The new carriage house will feature booth displays to showcase a collection of antique equipment that many people have not seen. The livestock area will include sheep, goats and other small animals that kids can raise, Kegebein said. And the garden, which is already funded, will be named the Lynne Grossi Garden after Grossi, 1956-2018, who played a number of roles at the fairgrounds for decades, including manager at the AHP.

“Our upcoming Harvest Dinner is the chief fundraiser for the project,” Kegabein said. “It will take place Oct. 30.”

The overall Living History Farm will cost around $2 million, money that still has to be raised.

The land being used served as the pits area for Friday night car races. The pits will be moved to another spot and not infringe on race activities, Kegebein said.

The soil was actually hauled to the site in the 1940s to build a racehorse track. Kegebein said horse races were a big draw to the area until 1958 when a race car track was created.

There is no definitive completion date for the Living History Farm as it hinges on funding as it arises.

 “I can tell you this,” Kegebein said. “We will have some activity here as part of next year’s fair.”

Harvest Dinner tickets and information can be found at or by calling 831-724-5898 or 831-566-2817.


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