Group of en­thu­si­asts reap big fun from minia­ture farms

Dio­rama club has proven to be such a pop­u­lar pas­time, now or­ga­niz­ers are think­ing of ex­pand­ing it

The Woolwich Observer - - LIVING HERE - LIZ BE­VAN

IT’S FARM LIFE WRIT small, and it’s at­tracted quite a fol­low­ing. A dio­rama club sees en­thu­si­asts of all ages gather from all over to create com­plex minia­ture farm scenes for the sheer plea­sure of it.

Mem­bers make the trek up Arthur way to Jol­ley’s Farm Toys and Diecast, which plays host to the club. It was there last Satur­day that mem­bers who spend count­less hours on their cre­ations put their hand­i­work on dis­play for the public.

Kevin Gar­ner is one of the club’s mem­bers and, by his own ad­mis­sion, one of the old­est. He’s been col­lect­ing farm toys and build­ing dio­ra­mas for around 40 years.

“It is a so­cial thing for me, and when I got here, I thought that I would build some­thing too. It is a lot of fun,” he said.

Gar­ner has built a scale­model John Deere deal­er­ship with the club, but has also been work­ing on his own dio­rama at home for 25 years. He says it is a labour of love.

“I would say I have about 50 hours put in on the deal­er­ship. The club met for six weeks, but I worked on a lot of it at home be­cause I have the tools,” he said, adding that there were many more hours put into his own per­sonal dio­rama farm project. “I take the other (dio­rama) around to dif­fer­ent toy shows and I prob­a­bly have about 40 hours in just build­ing the fenc­ing on that one. All of the fence is de­signed to look like split rail fenc­ing and it is just made of tooth­picks. It is a lot of fun.”

He says the club is great for peo­ple of all ages, and it teaches plenty of skills to kids, as well as pro­vid­ing a fam­ily bond­ing ex­pe­ri­ence for mem­bers.

“It was great on the Wed­nes­day nights, the fa­thers and grand­fa­thers were com­ing out with the kids and they were get­ting into it just as much as their kids were,” he said. “The kids did most of their own dio­ra­mas and it is amaz­ing what they have ac­com­plished.”

Alma’s Sharon Grose is a fix­ture in the lo­cal farm­ing com­mu­nity and its 4-H clubs. She says they ini­tially wanted to start the club as an ex­ten­sion of 4-H, but they found the age lim­i­ta­tions left out a few folks who were in­ter­ested in mak­ing their own minia­ture scenes and dio­ra­mas.

“We thought about run­ning it as a 4-H Club but the trou­ble with that is that you can only be age 9 to 21, and we have a mem­ber that is two years old. What do you do with the other peo­ple that want to come and par­tic­i­pate?” she said.

Her son Nick owns Jol-

ley’s Farm Toys and Diecast, which seems an ideal spot for the club’s meet­ing place.

Their own it­er­a­tion of a dio­rama club has been wildly suc­cess­ful.

“The club teaches them re­spon­si­bil­ity. They have to make a plan, they have to fol­low through and im­ple­ment,” she said, echo­ing Gar­ner when dis­cussing the multi-gen­er­a­tional im­pact. “You have to have pa­tience and re­spon­si­bil­ity. You have to do the work, and even clean up. These projects in­volve a lot. When you get grandpa giving you tech­niques, it is great. It can be hard some­times to find an ac­tiv­ity that ev­ery­one in the fam­ily can do. One per­son of­fi­cially joins the club, but the rest just come to help out.”

The club is al­ready look­ing at ex­pand­ing after a fruit­ful first run, with dis­cus­sions around adding an ex­tra night per week in the fall.

“They have al­ready made plans for a fall session, and there has al­ready been in­ter­est. But, there are only so many peo­ple that they can take, ca­pac­ity-wise. When they hit 15 or 16, that would be it. Then you add in the fam­ily mem­bers help­ing, and it can be a lot,” said Grose.

The club is open to any­one who is in­ter­ested in farm toys and cre­at­ing minia­ture scenes just for fun.

“Come out. Ev­ery­body helps each other. The club is very sup­port­ive and you share our tech­niques, and there are no mis­takes. The club is about what you want to do and how you want to create it, so we just en­cour­age ev­ery­one to come out and see what it is about,” said Grose. “Some of the older mem­bers put to­gether a dio­rama of what their farm looked like when they were kids, and other peo­ple grew up on a farm, they can’t af­ford to farm any­more, they work some­place else, and they make their dream farms.”

[LIZ BE­VAN / THE OB­SERVER]

Kevin Gar­ner is just one of the mem­bers of the Dio­rama Club at Jol­ley’s Farm Toys and Diecast. He has been work­ing on his own dio­rama for 25 years and built an­other one, a John Deere deal­er­ship, with the club.

[LIZ BE­VAN / THE OB­SERVER]

An open house vis­i­tor ad­mires a minia­ture farm scene.

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