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College Awarded Grant to Develop 47-Acre Farm for Agriculture Education

sunset over beautiful pasture with gate(December 14, 2021) – Alamance Community College has been awarded a $380,550 grant from The North Carolina Tobacco Trust Fund Commission for initial development of a project that will expand opportunities for more hands-on and real-world learning for agriculture and horticulture students.

The College received the funds specifically for “Agricultural Learning Through Farm Development,” a $9.1 million project that signifies the initial development of the Bill and Nancy Covington Education Center, a 47-acre farm near Mebane that was donated to the College in recent years. The farm’s development will impact students in Horticulture Technology, Animal Care and Management, Agricultural Biotechnology, and several new programs that will begin in fall 2022: Agriculture Education, Sustainable Agriculture, and Agribusiness Technology. In addition, two Career College pathways offer training for students with intellectual disabilities in both Horticulture and Animal Care, serving 25 students each year who will benefit from expanded farm resources. ACC also hosts a number of community groups that will benefit through the new facilities, including 4-H, agriculture extension, area schools, and other community groups.

Tobacco Trust funds will assist ACC in developing more usable learning spaces and resources. Specifically, the project will provide access to a more reliable water source to support current and future growth, establishment of a teaching and restroom facility, and creation of an animal husbandry barn and grazing areas.

“There is a tremendous amount of potential for new and unique learning opportunities for students at the farm,” said Dr. Elizabeth Riley, Department Head of Horticulture Technology and associated programs. “Agriculture has been economically important in Alamance County and, with the farm, we will be able to support the future of this for our community. We are so appreciative of the grant awarded to Alamance Community College by the NC Tobacco Trust Fund Commission to support the beginning phases of growth for the 47-acre farm.”

ACC collaborated with a landscape architecture firm, Cole, Jenest, & Stone, and an architectural engineering firm, BSA, to create the master plan for the land that benefits current and future programs.

Additionally, ACC’s training activities will support a blend of new and current farmers. The project will help provide training opportunities to existing farmers looking for alternatives to tobacco production and new farmers who are beginning to take over family farms or start new farms in Alamance and surrounding counties.

“We are grateful to the North Carolina Tobacco Trust Fund Commission for their investment in ACC. These funds will directly impact the quality of education ACC is able to provide by optimizing the unparalleled 47-acre working farm where students gain hands-on learning experience, preparing them to make a difference in the local economy,” said ACC President Dr. Algie Gatewood.