The University of Massachusetts Amherst’s plans to open an Agricultural Learning Center (“ALC”) as a hands-on living “classroom” or field laboratory for undergraduates, graduate students and residents of Massachusetts to pursue active learning about all of the forms of agriculture in the Commonwealth. The Agricultural Learning Center will provide experiential learning opportunities in a wide variety of farming, horticultural, nursery and landscape industries. By having small areas devoted to livestock, fruits, vegetables, turf, and landscape crops, the Center for Agriculture and Stockbridge School of Agriculture will be able to offer a broad array of agricultural topics to both UMass students and the general public. The next generation of farmers will be well-educated at UMass Amherst.
The creation of the Agricultural Learning Center will return student participation in farming, an important part of agricultural education, to a location within walking distance of the heart of the campus. At a time when many people are rediscovering the importance of local food and local agriculture, and when farming is once again of interest to young college-age people, the Learning Center will bring the state’s agricultural focus to Amherst.
This concept takes advantage of the scientific and intellectual resources of the University, its faculty and students. In the future, the UMass Amherst Agricultural Learning Center will be known as a learning destination for those interested in food, farming, landscape and other natural-resource-based enterprises. Also, as a community Agricultural Learning Center it will draw visitors from across the Northeast to workshops, courses, demonstrations and conferences. The Agricultural Learning Center will be organized around units that will be integrated into labs associated with applied agricultural classes.
Site and Buildings
The ALC will be located at the UMass Adams-Wysocki Field at 911 North Pleasant Street in Amherst, MA. Preliminary plans call for preserving two historic buildings that will be moved to the site from their current location near the George N. Parks Minuteman Marching Band Building. One is the beloved horse barn (the last remaining barn on campus) and the second is Blaisdell House, the original farm manager’s house.
The horse barn will be restored to highlight the original exterior appearance from when it was built in 1894, a once a proud showplace for Massachusetts Agricultural College. The interior will be renovated and reused as classrooms for students with one large space created for larger gatherings, including public workshops. Blaisdell House is likely to become offices and/or a farm manager’s house.
With successful fund-raising, the projected opening date is fall, 2014. If you wish to contribute to this exciting project, please go to Umass.edu/give and choose College of Natural Sciences allocated to Agricultural Learning Center.
If you would like to be involved, or if you have questions, please contact us at: AgLC@cns.umass.edu
Stephen J. Herbert, Assoc. Dean, and Director UMass Center for Agriculture
Sandra Thomas, Project Manager – 413 545-6325