A Community Place

   Seven years at Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV) have helped me understand what a significant “community centre” this museum is. MHV depends on our community for volunteer help, cash and in-kind donations, and goodwill in various forms. In turn, the museum gives back to our community through preservation of local history, education of school-age children and adult visitors, community festivals, and the broader economic spinoffs of tourism generated by this facility.

   In just two months we will again open the Village to the public, offering our full complement of features from May through September. One of the most popular features among our youngest guests is the barnyard with all of its animals.

   Every year we bring in chickens, ducks, geese, rabbits, pigs, sheep, goats, cows, donkeys and horses. Wherever possible, we try to bring in both mature and young animals. Feeding these birds and animals through the wire cages is a popular (albeit somewhat scary) activity among children. Most children rarely have the opportunity to interact with farm animals, so this is a unique learning experience for them.

   Our interactive barnyard is successful primarily because of the support of community individuals and businesses. Many of the animals that spend the summer with us are owned by others and are generously here on loan. Len and Jane Penner provide us with goats and also house some chickens for us through the winter. Tim Schmidt and James Barkman bring us a couple of sheep with their lambs. Not many people have donkeys, but Robert Krentz does, and he always brings us a donkey with her newborn foal, as well as a cow with a calf. Juergen Schubert loans us two of his Texas Longhorns, who spend the summer here playing the role of a team of oxen. Ed Peters provides us with a few hogs, which are fed here all summer and then “participate” in the butchering demonstration at Fall on the Farm in September. Ivor Asham from Birdshill Park Ranch loans us a team of heavy horses, which provides many hours of horse-drawn wagon rides for our guests.

   All of these animals must be fed substantially more than the tufts of grass and dandelion leaves that the children feed them. Here’s where a number of community businesses pitch in. We appreciate the generosity of Eastman Feeds, Maple Leaf Agrifarms, Steinbach Hatchery, Masterfeeds, Unger Feeds and Pet Valu, who all provide nutrition for our barnyard residents, keeping them healthy and happy. We also thank Henry Martens, Corneil Blatz, Ron Andres, Ray Lange and others who have provided baled hay to round out the diets.

   Our community provides us with animals and feed; we provide housing and care; and our community comes here to enjoy and learn from the animals. Without a supporting constituency, a museum could not exist, nor would there even be a purpose for having one.

Calendar of Events

March 6 – 7:00 PM, Vespers Service

March 22 – 7:30 PM, MHV Annual General Meeting

About the Author

Gary is responsible for the overall management of MHV. Guiding the staff, informing the board, and networking with officials, volunteers, corporate sponsors, individual donors and other guests. He has a business diploma and a MA in Global Studies from Providence Theological Seminary. With his family he did humanitarian work for 18 years in Asia, including being a CEO of a Compost Enterprise in China. He loves to discuss the Mennonite story and how it is relevant in our world. Learn more about the MHV.

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