KSU Unveils New Center For Sustainability of Farms & Families
Jun 18th, 10
12,000-square-foot building opens up new opportunities for the university.
Frankfort, KY – Dr. Harold Benson, director of the Land Grant Program, was emotional June 16 as Kentucky State University held the grand opening for its Center for Sustainability of Farms and Families at the KSU Research and Demonstration Farm.
“Hearing tributes like Mac’s (Mac Stone, KSU’s first farm manager) brings to mind the days when we had nothing,” Benson said. “Now, we see promise for the future.”
The 12,000-square-foot building opens up new opportunities for the university. It had outgrown its current farm building, where it hosted numerous meetings and workshops, including the monthly Third Thursday Thing seminars. Now, it can hold large-scale events, including farm shows, agriculture education workshops and conventions and training seminars. The focus of the programming will be on sustainability and on ensuring Kentucky farms and families remain profitable, socially conscious and ecologically friendly.
The university can do even more now with programming. Stone, now the executive director if agricultural marketing and product promotion at the Kentucky Department of Agriculture, and Craig Maffett, deputy commission and chief of staff for KDA, presented Benson and President Mary Evans Sias a check for $15,000 in Specialty Crop Block Grant funds to benefit the Third Thursday Thing program.
“We’ll take it,” Sias said, holding the check high.
KSU’s sustainability efforts fit perfectly with the mission of the Kentucky Department of Agriculture’s Kentucky Proud program, Maffett said. He said nothing is more important that Kentucky’s farms and families.
“You could not define our mission any better,” Maffett said of the name Center for Sustainability of Farms and Families. “You can walk into the building and see its purpose. It puts an exclamation point on what we are already doing.”
KSU not only is an important collaborator with state and national agencies, it is a valuable partner with the University of Kentucky, Kentucky’s other land grant university. Dr. Scott Smith, dean of UK’s College of Agriculture, and Dr. Jimmy Henning, associate dean and director of Kentucky Cooperative Extension, spoke of how KSU and UK partner on grants, programs and initiatives for the good of the state’s farms and families.
Smith chaired the Budget and Advocacy Committee of the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities, where he helped secure U.S. Department of Agriculture funding for the center and also where he learned how land grant universities interact in other states.
“I have to claim that Kentucky is a model for 1862-1890 land grant cooperation and synergy,” Smith said.
The two universities’ Cooperative Extension staffs share branding, staff and create programs together to address the community’s needs, Henning said. Their partnership is only limited by their imagination and energy rather than anything else, he said.
“I know that when we upgrade facilities, the expectations go up,” Henning said. “I am happy to say that I am sure Kentucky State’s faculty and staff are up to the challenge and I am glad to be a part of that.”
The farm and its facilities have come a long way since Stone managed the farm. He presented Benson with an aerial photograph of what the farm looked like in 1986 when he became the farm manager. Since then, the university has acquired more land and dramatically expanded its programs.
Stone credited KSU Land Grant’s phenomenal growth to Benson’s foresight and his willingness to listen to his staff’s ideas. As a result, the university began the Third Thursday workshops, which have become a national model in sustainability education; added a mobile processing unit, which aid farmers around the state; introduced small and limited resource farmers to new types of livestock and crops; and developed an organic agriculture program for limited resource farmers who previously thought it would be too expensive or daunting a task to grow organically.
“Kentucky State empowered people to be different,” Stone said.
The center’s slogan is Affirming the Promise, Continuing the Legacy. The university has served thousands of farmers and families through its outreach efforts and programs and will continue to do so, Sias said. The new building affirms that promise KSU made when it became an 1890 Land Grant institution to serve the community, and now it can grow its efforts.
“This is our dream, our vision and our hope,” Sias said.