Ag college pursues campus farm facelift
The University of Maryland College of Agriculture and Natural Resources is embarking on a major renovation of its campus farm in College Park.
Announcing the project at the Maryland Farm Bureau Convention Dec. 5, Dr. Craig Beyrouty, dean of the college, said the estimated $17 million proposed project is necessary to create more functional teaching space and The Campus Farm Teaching, stay competitive with other regional agricultural colleges and engage the whole campus community in farming and environmental issues.
The first phase of the renovation is the Campus Farm Teaching Pavilion, a 24,500 square foot building and 17,840 square foot arena.
The building will house a 120-person classroom to accommodate increasing class sizes; smaller spaces for seminars, demonstration and instruction; space for coordination of farm activities by the campus farm manager, support staff, faculty and volunteers; shower/bathrooms/changing areas/laundry machines for farm users; an overnight room for students, faculty or farm crew who need to be present at the farm for births, emergencies or other animal needs; space for animal feed and storage and a rooftop teaching garden area.
The indoor arena will allow for livestock and equine teaching and activities during inclement weather and expanded teaching opportunities.
“We envision this to be really a 22nd century farm,” Beyrouty said. “So the intent here is to lead the nation when it comes to actually show a high concentration of farming in an urban environment… and be able to integrate that with environmental issues as well.”
The campus farm pavilion is designed to be the hub of a larger AGNR initiative called the AgroEcology Corridor which proposes to utilize the entire College Park campus’ green space into an educational complex showing the relationships with food production agriculture and the environment, Beyrouty said.
“Right now at the university, most of the education occurs in buildings,” Beyrouty said. “We’re proposing the entire campus be used for education and that’s the green space in between. We connect the dots for students.
“We show the interconnection between food production, between the human individual and between the environment as well.”
According to the college, the AgroEcology Corridor concept has been endorsed by the University’s president and provost and has been integrated into the campus master plan so that sites for new buildings will preserve green space for the corridor.
Beyrouty said the Campus Farm dates back to the 1930s and many of it structures are underutilized or not utilized as they don’t meet the needs of faculty and students.
“It’s seen better days,” Beyrouty said. “It’s actually in a state of disrepair.”
The farm currently lacks places for students to gather for studying and collaboration, and lacks event, meeting and demonstration spaces.
The only area for teaching classroom-sized groups of students on the existing farm is not covered from the elements, which hinders our ability to teach during inclement weather.
Additionally, limited square footage at the current farm limits the range of animal species that can be housed there and limits class sizes to no more than 20 students at a time.
To make the pavilion a reality, Beyrouty said the college needs support from the industry and urged the Farm Bureau audience to share his excitement and hopefully their own, with others in their communities.
“The possibilities I think are tremendous,” Beyrouty said. “We hope that you’re equally excited about this as we are.
“The only way that this is going to happen is if we identify and develop additional partners to help with this.”