The planned Agricultural Learning Center received a $10,000 grant Aug. 30 from the Monsanto Fund, the philanthropic branch of the Monsanto Company, an agricultural biotechnology corporation.
The gift was presented to Stephen Herbert, associate dean of Natural Sciences and director of the Center for Agriculture, and Richard Bonnano, president of the Massachusetts Farm Bureau by alumnus John Purcell, vice president for technology development for Monsanto Vegetables. Purcell received his Ph.D. in Molecular and Cellular Biology.
Purcell said the grant will support campus efforts to preserve its long agricultural heritage. “The work that will done to educate students and visitors to the challenges of agriculture and how farmers continue to meet those challenges is critical,” he said. “This is particularly true today when so many people have very little understanding of agriculture and how food is produced.”
Plans for the new Agricultural Learning Center, were announced in July. Located on the 40-acre, former Wysocki Farm on North Pleasant Street, the facility will serve as a hands-on, living classroom for students to learn about farming and the horticultural, nursery and landscape industries. The center will also have small areas devoted to livestock, fruits, vegetables, turf and landscape crops. The center is expected to open in fall 2014 with an estimated 200 taking classes there each year.
Funding for the project comes from a combination of private fundraising and university support. Establishment of the working farm will be financed from the Center for Agriculture’s budget and possibly supplemented by in-kind gifts of equipment from business. The Massachusetts Farm Bureau Federation has pledged $500,000 to the overall project.