Farming on Display: celebrating agriculture and innovation

A Tennessee museum now features an exhibit about agriculture. Here is how the realistic display about modern day ag is drawing lots of attention.

A dab of history mixed in, but you are entering a futuristic look at farming. Discovery Park of America in Union City now hosts an exhibit called “Agriculture: Innovating for Our Survival,” with funding from the Tennessee Soybean Promotion Board.

There is everything from antique tractors to modern combines that kids and adults can pretend to drive. Visitors can also see interactive informational displays and even an observation hive with 10,000 bees.

“It’s mainly focused on the innovation in agriculture,” according to Jennifer Wildes with Discovery Park. She says that the exhibit is a perfect fit here, with ag such a part of the heritage of northwest Tennessee.

The goal here was to throw out the straw bales, overalls, and Ole’ McDonald references, and instead present a modern look at farming. Ag is about plants and animals, but also people.

The exhibit includes “The Faces of Farming"-- portraits of 250 farmers or ag professionals with a goal of myth busting.

“One stereotype that we found was that a lot of people, when you pictured ag, you pictured Caucasian male, older farmers, and even though that demographic is such a large piece of the puzzle, it’s just so much more than that,” Wildes states. “So, we wanted to show our guests that with agriculture, the people themselves are so diverse, different, races, ages, genders, and even the jobs are so diverse.”

The exhibit opened in December of last year. At first, not many visitors because of the pandemic, but now crowds are picking up.

Open since 2013, Discovery Park of America includes a 100,000 square foot museum and 50 acre Heritage Park. It has hosted a quarter of a million visitors in its time.

The ag exhibit is in a separate space from the main building, but an easy walk away and popular. UT Extension in Obion County advised Discovery Park on displays and programming.

“We’re fortunate and thankful that they’re promoting agriculture, which is a big part of our community here, and they do it in a great way,” Bob Shumake states. “They talk about innovation and technology. They talk about the different roles of people involved in agriculture.”

This exhibit is about education-- and an appreciation for --this vital industry that feeds the world. It is a permanent part of Discovery Park, telling the story of farming and honoring the people dedicated to a cause.