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Lorry Dunning

Lorry Dunning
Historical Consultant
This 1916 Holt Havester was pulled with a 32 mule hitch to harvest wheat.

Lorry Dunning worked at the University of California, Davis, for 31 years as a bug chaser in entomology and parasitology. After retiring he has dedicated himself to creating a history museum to teach young children and adults about where their food and fiber comes from. Dunning does not want people to forget about the past, while at the same time worries about future generations and what problems they will face during their lifetimes.

Tell us a little about yourself.

I am Lorry Dunning, Historical Consultant; my connection to the preserve is that I’ve known Lynnel Pollock for years and years. I have helped her with some of the identification of the equipment that is over here and the history of the harvester.

Why do think it is important to have this equipment on display here?

Well, do you know where your food and fiber comes from?

Often not

Well, that is the reason why it’s here, to teach people. I specialize in teaching people where the food and fiber comes from. Everyone thinks you can go to the grocery store to get a bottle of milk and that’s where it comes from. They do not realize it has a process and comes from cows, or how bread is made and where bread comes from. Wheat is the basic staple of your bread and then you have to grind into flour. Most children and a lot of adults do not know what that process is. It is important to have stuff on display and educate people how you eat.

What experiences or stories do you have about exposing people to the history of agriculture in Cache Creek?

I had a guy in FFA who was so naive about agriculture that we had him convinced chocolate milk came from Angus cows. He believed it! I had some grain cut to show people what grain looked like. We would grind the grain and have flour. We would let the children take the flour to make bread patties and put them in the pueblo oven to bake. They would then need to shake the cream to make their own butter. My greatest reward was, I guess the gal was five or six years old, she came up and said, “Grandpa, here is a bite of my bread and butter I made for you.”

That was an experience that little gal will never forget. When she sees the cow, she will know where her butter comes from. When she sees the wheat field, she will know where her bread came from. These are the things I think we need more experience on.

How do you help people in cities become more aware about the water crisis and how it affects agriculture in Cache Creek?

Well, I do not know how you are going to educate them until they cannot fill their swimming pools up anymore. We sell and transport over half of our water from northern California over the Grapevine into LA and San Diego. When you fly in down there, every backyard has a swimming pool. When those folks turn on their faucets and do not get anything out of it, I guess they will wake up to the realization. I keep saying desalinization is going to take a bigger role, but everyone says it’s too expensive. Well, when they turn on their faucets and there “ain’t nothing” there, they are going to say, maybe we should think about desalinization. In order to eat, you are going to need water to water your crops. Last year in Yolo County, some of the largest prominent farmers barely had enough water to water their alfalfa fields. Until people cannot take the food off the shelf are they going to realize; you can tell them all you want.

What impact do you think a place like the preserve, the barn, local machinery, and other aspects have on educating people about agriculture?

Well, if we had the money I think it should be a lot more. I started the antique mechanics club in 1970’s trying to put a working, living history museum together to show stories and educate young people. The farmers in this state down I-5 have taken signs to identify the crop to let the people know what the crops are and get some idea where their food is coming from. The president of the Farm Bureau is saying that water is our greatest crisis. Ag in the Classroom and all sorts of agencies are working to educate young people and they are doing a fantastic job. Talk about environmentalists and some of these crazy things people do against the farmer, but the farmer is the greatest environmentalist you ever wanted to see. If he does not care for the land, he does not have a crop to make any money on. All these rules and regulations they are putting on the farmer are not helping the agricultural field. California is the leading state in the United States as far as ag production is concerned.

What do you want people to realize from all of this?

Well, I think one thing important to realize is it’s been 110 years since we had the first gasoline. Look at the progress we made in a little over 100 years! My grandfather was going out to see his father on the harvesters by horse and buggy. I am 74 now and my mother is turning 95 next month. She had to get up on a buck board and have the horse swim across the stream to get to her school on a daily basis when the stream was full of water. Look what you guys do today, I mean you do not know anything about this. You cannot do anything without a computer. Just look at where you are and look back at the progress we made in the last 100 years. I think this is important for people to realize. We take everything for granted now.

Written by: 
Adeel Ahmad

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