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FREEPORT — Wolfe’s Neck Center for Agriculture and the Environment is embarking on a capital campaign to help make its “re-imagined” campus a reality.
Under the “reinvestment of the farm,” new and repurposed historic buildings and a “thoughtfully designed landscape” would allow campers, farmers, researchers, and other visitors to “engage in hands-on learning about regenerative agriculture in an authentic, meaningful way.”
According to a news release from Executive Director Dave Herring and Board Chairwoman Fiona Wilson, the center’s staff and board of directors raised more than $31,000 this summer towards a significant part of this reinvestment – the Farm Discovery Gardens.
Now, the center is asking for donations to help them reach their six-week $75,000 goal to make the gardens a reality. As of Sept. 10, the center had raised more than $44,000.
Visitors can already interact with livestock in one of the center’s barns, explore a small educational garden and walk through the campground’s trails. The goal of the discovery gardens would be to expand on this by creating “a tremendous shift towards a more meaningful experience in a space that is specifically designed for visitors and learners,” according to the center’s website.
The gardens as imagined will be a “dynamic landscape” for learning and playing in nature, complete with a mix of interactive elements. The Discovery Gardens will be stationed next to a demonstration kitchen, which will be used to “bridge the connection between what’s in the garden and what’s on your plate.”
In the garden, kids will be able to collect eggs, plant seedlings, handle livestock, learn about year-round growing techniques, tend and harvest crops, collect seeds, make compost and learn about worms, insects and pollinators.
“Studies show that when children are directly involved in growing food in learning gardens, they are more likely to try and taste new vegetables and appreciate the food that they have grown,” the website reads. “Planting and eating from a garden fosters compassion, patience, and care for the earth.”
The gardens would be part of the new Smith Center for Education, which will begin construction in 2019.
Completed projects under the re-imagined campus include the Wishcamper Livestock Education Barn & Little River Farmstead, which was completed in June 2017 and serves as a seasonal hub for the center’s Summer Day Camp. In addition, the Pote Barn, completed last October, turned the historic barn from a “dilapidated underused space” to the new home for the center’s herd of heifers.
Also this year, the center hopes to build a new dairy barn on campus to serve as the center for a residential farmer apprentice program and also house a dairy herd of 60. It will also include the milking parlor, maintenance and equipment shop, commodity storage, and a research station.
A new Visitor Center is also in the works to serve as the primary entry and information point for all campground and day visitors. An indoor market will feature the farm’s fresh produce, meat and farm products and a cafe will offer a menu with food sourced locally and from the farm.
To learn more, donate to the project or sign up to be a fundraiser, visit www.classy.org/campaign.
An online illustration shows how Wolfe’s Neck Center for Agriculture and the Environment imagines kids interacting with nature in the Farm Discovery Gardens.