Forest Home Farms takes kids back in time

June 12, 2009 7:26:06 PM PDT
Forest Home Farms is a place where kids in San Ramon are transported to a world they have never experienced before. There, they learn how life was on a farm in the late 19th and early 20th century. Keeping this part of history alive is a group of volunteer docents. ABC7 News salutes them for their dedication and love for the past.

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Austin Ashmore is a docent at Forest Home Farms in San Ramon. To the eight and 9-year-olds that visit, he is just grandpa.

"We get kids that can't even imagine a cord on a telephone and to try to bring them into a place and say this is way they lived -- this isn't a museum -- that people actually lived this way," says Austin.

Ruth and Travis Boone owned the 16-acre farm located in the San Ramon Valley, and in 1998 when Ruth died, it was donated to the city with the condition that it never be developed.

As part of the 3rd grade school district curriculum, the students learn about farm life in the 19th and early 20th century with all its old-fashioned ways, from making butter to using a juice squeezer and canning fruits and vegetables. Darning socks is something these kids never thought they could do... but a chore not practical for today's moms.

"She probably has to buy them at the story because it'd probably be a lot of time to knit," says 3rd grader Solania Harper.

Joanne Ashmore has been volunteering on the farm for the past seven years.

"I take them back in time when there was no electricity, there wasn't running water, they couldn't run down to the store and replace that sock that they just got a hole in -- they fixed it," says Joanne.

"They get to experience hands-on things that we couldn't do in the classroom," says teacher Angela Valdez.

Part of their field trip includes seeing dozens of old tractors that have been rebuilt by volunteers.

Each education docent spends two days a month teaching kids about the local history. The city of San Ramon is always looking for more people to train.

Docents on the farm have to go through several hours of training before they become volunteers, and they have to learn everything there is to know about Ruth and Travis Boone. And yes, in case you are wondering, they were related to Daniel Boone.

Kids back then had to work on the farm before and after school. Not too appealing to today's young ones.

"We have to do work and all that stuff and today we don't have to do it right now," says 3rd grader Joshua Suhaimi.

Thanks to Joanne and other volunteers, the past is forever present in this valley.

"It is just a fabulous way to spend your retirement. It's fun being with children. It keeps you young," says Joanne. "And one thing grandma loves to hear is thank you."

ABC7 salutes Joanne and Austin Ashmore and all the docents of Forest Home Farms for giving up their time to teach kids the way things were especially in today's fast paced world.

If you know someone you think we should salute, contact us here.

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