Board prepares to launch capital campaign for American Farm Museum and Educational Center

The name has officially been changed but the mission of the Tri-County Historical Society remains the same as the committee announces the intent to launch a capital campaign to raise $2.5 million to complete the purchase of the former Home Canning Company Property and upgrade and construct an initial building.
For more than three years, the idea to preserve agricultural history and also showcase the massive collection of the late Charles and Barbara Burkholder has been in the works. From the original idea, the concept has developed into a destination that would attract both agricultural experts and professionals and visitors to the proposed museum that would not only house the toy collection but potentially other artifacts.
According to a press release, what was formerly known as the Agricultural Awareness and Preservation Museum is now The American Farm Museum and Educational Center. The museum would, according to the board of directors, put Blissfield on the national radar as an agricultural center of the United States as well as draw thousands of tourists and visitors to the village yearly to visit the location.
A three-phased course of action has been identified and partially completed.
A feasibility study, business and strategic plan have all been completed in phase one.
Currently the second phase of inventorying, packing and moving the Charles and Barbara Burkholder Farm Toy Collection, which includes and estimated 13,000 pieces along with more than 360 pedal tractors, is wrapping up These items plus a 70-piece showcase collection were given to the museum by the couple in a signed Deed of Gift in September 2012. Mrs. Burkholder died in 2014 and Mr. Burkholder died this past May. The Burkholder collection was showcased in a feature article in the Jan. 7 edition of The Advance.
A development committee that includes leaders in the agricultural community has been formed. This group has been charged with raising the $2.5 million dollars needed to purchase the 34.5-acre former Home Canning Company property from the village.
The village and the museum board reached an agreement last December with a lease to purchase agreement that will come due in full next year.
Board secretary Melissa Durbin said “The $2.5 million dollars includes purchasing the property, site preparation and construction of a utilitarian structure.”
The building would have three functions, storage of the collection and other donated farm equipment, tools, toys and paper memorabilia, office space and an initial small gallery.
Members of this committee are co-chairs John Tuckerman and Phillip Schaedler, Dawn and Duane Goetz, Jeff Ehlert, Barb Kunkle, Adam Nine and Pete Durbin.
“We plan to hold groundbreaking for the initial multi-purpose building on this site in early spring 2016,” Tuckerman said.
“Farming is in a huge transitional period not only in methods, equipment and final product but also the public perception and demands are changing at the speed of light.”
“The need is great and the time is right for the American Farm Museum & Education Center to provide a venue which is designed to develop an understanding and renewed appreciation for the farming industry,” committee member and museum board chairman Pete Durbin said.
The Museum Board of Directors includes educators, business owners, bankers, finance professionals and agricultural experts including Durbin, chairman; Frank Baker, vice chairman; Growden, secretary; Julie Goll, treasurer; and trustees: Mark Buuck, Mike Cory, Wayne Knoblauch, Kunkle, Brian Nofzinger, James Ott and Tuckerman.
The museum board is looking for individuals interested in volunteering to help move the museum forward and they can contact anyone on either the committee or the board of directors or send a note to the museum at P.O. Box 37, Blissfield, MI 49228.