May 6, 2013
LINCOLN, Neb. — A new training farm at Prairie Pines near Lincoln will offer training to help beginning farmers develop successful small businesses.
The site, in northeast Lincoln, is a collaboration between Community CROPS and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's School of Natural Resources. A ribbon-cutting ceremony is planned at 2 p.m., May 14.
Community CROPS founded the Growing Farmers Training Program in 2007 to help beginning farmers develop successful small businesses. After outgrowing its former training site in 2012, it partnered with SNR's Prairie Pines to continue and expand the training program.
"This cooperation will help us inform kids about where their food comes from," said James Brandle, professor of forestry in SNR and director of Prairie Pines. "Prairie Pines offers SNR the opportunity to put into practice our goal of introducing children to the wonders of nature."
Prairie Pines is a large plot of land on the northeast side of Lincoln. Originally a Christmas tree farm, it was donated by Walt and Virginia Bagley to UNL as a conservation and educational facility. The land features a wealth of ecosystems, including hardwood trees, conifers, native prairie, and grasslands, making it an excellent site for farming education and research.
Initially, Community CROPS will use about nine acres for its training program, though part of the benefit of Prairie Pines is the opportunity to increase the number of plots available to participants.
"Community CROPS is very excited to partner with the university's School of Natural Resources at Prairie Pines," said Kirstin Bailey, program manager of Growing Farmers. "This new site allows us to eventually triple the size of our training farm, and it also gives our participants the opportunity to learn how to integrate their farming practices in a sustainable manner with the surrounding environment."
Bailey said CROPS hopes that its work at Prairie Pines will continue the conservationist appeal of the region, especially as Lincoln continues to expand eastward.
Brandle also sees the benefit of the partnership in the face of Lincoln's expansion.
"Prairie Pines offers a great opportunity to show how what we do while managing land impacts the land and provides for society," said Brandle. He said the partnership will increase public awareness about land management.
Bailey said, "We'll be able to partner with university faculty and students to develop research projects, and continue to strengthen our relationship with Extension as we train the next generation of vegetable farmers in our region."
More information about the ribbon-cutting ceremony is available from Ingrid Kirst, Community CROPS executive director, Ingrid@communitycrops.org or 402-474-9802.Ingrid Kirst
Community CROPS Executive Director
IANR News Service