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Museum highlights Salinas' agricultural history

Over the years, the Salinas Valley has had two great claims to fame--being one of California's most productive agricultural areas and being the home of acclaimed author John Steinbeck.


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Over the years, the Salinas Valley has had two great claims to fame--being one of California's most productive agricultural areas and being the home of acclaimed author John Steinbeck. Now, thanks to a new addition to a local museum, both of these achievements are being celebrated.

In March of this year, a new chapter began for the National Steinbeck Center, with the opening of the 6,500 square-foot Valley of the World wing. This long-awaited addition celebrates the rich agricultural heritage of the Salinas Valley, which was first described as "The Valley of the World" by John Steinbeck in his novel East Of Eden.

Steinbeck worked in the Salinas Valley fields and gathered inspiration from the workers and the land. The Grapes of Wrath, Of Mice and Men and The Red Pony are just a few of his works that are based on these firsthand experiences.

The new Valley of the World wing celebrates the history, technology and the people of the Salinas Valley. One gallery features audio clips, photographs and film footage of farmworkers. Another gallery allows visitors to experience a day in the life of a trucker in a life-sized semi cab. And yet another gallery examines the economics of the produce market. The new wing explores the entire agriculture business, from field to fork, and gives visitors real hands-on experience of how their food is grown.

The museum's tribute to agriculture is about a lot of things, but it has one main theme - the area's evolution from cattle country to the most productive farmland in the world. More than 200 people had a hand in creating the agricultural museum. They told their stories and contributed artifacts and other items. That's one of the main reasons organizers call the new wing "a museum of people for people."

Farmers credit the museum for bringing a voice to agriculture and educating visitors, young and old, about the trials and tribulations farmers endure.

For more information, visit www.steinbeck.org.


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