South Carolina State University 1890 Research & Extension deepened the university’s agricultural roots with the opening of a new research and demonstration farm in Olar, South Carolina.
The acquisition of the nearly 200-acres farm holds significant historical value for the university, as it has been 50 years since the historically black land-grant university has owned and operated a farm. The university community celebrated the opening of the new farm with a ribbon-cutting and groundbreaking ceremony on Friday, March 26, at the demonstration farm, 1678 Alligator Road, Olar.
“SC State University has long been committed to advancing agriculture and agriculture-related practices and technologies since its founding in 1896,” SC State University President James E. Clark said. “The new SC State 1890 Research & Demonstration Farm furthers our land-grant mission of improving quality of life for South Carolinians, particularly for the state’s small farm producers and entrepreneurs who will greatly benefit from the farm’s re-established presence in the state.”
Located approximately nearly 30 miles from SC State’s Orangeburg campus, the farm features a 2,200-square-foot farm manager residence, 3,650 square-foot hay barn and 4,000 square-foot large equipment shed. Three ponds are also situated on the property.
Plans for expansion include the addition of a multifunctional training center, which will house office and community meeting spaces, research laboratories, classrooms and indoor storage for large machinery. Construction of a processing center also is planned.
The SC State University 1890 Research & Extension Program, which serves as the public service arm of the university, will operate the farm. Intensive research studies, as well as research-based educational workshops and training sessions, will be offered through the organization, which emphasizes sustainable agriculture and natural resources among its programmatic areas.
Immediate farm activity will align with SC State 1890’s purpose to provide relevant, scientific-based programming and conduct problem solving research which addresses agriculture and agriculture-related challenges impacting South Carolina’s nearly $45 billion agriculture industry. Such activities will include studying the emerging hemp crop and researching vegetable production using conventional and organic practices in hoop houses and a greenhouse. Agroforestry will be explored, and the farm will include opportunities for community gardening.
“There could be no better time than now to add this research and demonstration farm to the university’s research, teaching and public service portfolio,” Dr. Louis Whitesides, vice president and executive director for 1890 Programs, said. “As global systems expand, agriculture remains at the forefront as the leading global economic industry.
“The work we do through 1890 Research & Extension and now through the farm will advance agriculture innovation and practices, whether it be to assist small farmers in increasing revenue, eliminating food insecurities, combatting environmental and climate issues or preparing the next generation of ag leaders,” Whitesides said.
Funding to acquire the $750,000 farm was supported through the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a long-standing partner with SC State University. Such funding is available to universities in the land-grant system network strengthen and increase their capabilities in the agriculture and food-related sciences.
For more information on the new 1890 Research & Demonstration Farm, contact Dr. Louis Whitesides, at email@example.com or (803) 536-8351.