RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK – North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University has opened a new $6 million pavilion for ag research and education on its research farm in Greensboro.

The 17,000-square-foot Extension and Research Farm Pavilion includes a 500-seat auditorium, classrooms, labs, a conference room and a kitchen. It will be used to conduct research and deliver educational programming to students, farmers and community members on the university’s 492-acre research farm.

“The farm has been a critical research and educational asset to the university since its inception in 1904,” Chancellor Harold L. Martin Sr., Ph.D., said at a dedication ceremony. “This is an expansion of that role.”

Martin was joined by local, state and national dignitaries at the ribbon-cutting event on Sept. 21.

NC A&T University Farm Pavilion. (NC A&T photo)

“You could sense the collaborative energy and great expectations of how this new Pavilion will further advance educational and community opportunities for growth”, said Nancy Johnston, executive director of the North Carolina Biotechnology Center’s Piedmont Triad office. “NCA&T continues to be an important contributor to our unique ag biotech strengths, the Piedmont Triad region and our state.”

The pride was palpable everywhere. “This Pavilion makes this beautiful farm not only the university’s largest classroom and largest laboratory, but also its largest community-engagement space,” said Mohamed Ahmedna, Ph.D., dean of the College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences.

“This building is a dream 20 years in the making,” said Leon Moses, the farm’s superintendent of 45 years.

The Pavilion is the centerpiece of a building boom at the farm. Additional projects planned for the space include an amphitheater; a community and urban food complex with a dairy, research labs, classrooms; and a small-business incubator. Already, the college has opened student and community gardens near the Pavilion as part of the planned expansion.

These projects will be important economic drivers for the city, said Greensboro Mayor Nancy Vaughan.

“N.C. A&T and the city of Greensboro are intertwined,” Vaughan said, “In a city challenged by food insecurity, to be able to have a land-grant institution like A&T right here with the innovations they’re making, are all going to have a major impact on the city.”

Steve Troxler, North Carolina’s commissioner of agriculture, congratulated the college and the farm’s staff for their excellence.

“I can say that this farm is the best in North Carolina,” Troxler said. “I ought to know because the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services runs 18 research farms. When I came and toured the farm recently, I was blown away.”

The Pavilion was built with funds from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

“The college is to be commended on opening this building, which will be so important in helping to deliver programs to stakeholders across the state and the nation,” said Jewel Bronaugh, Ph.D., USDA deputy secretary of agriculture.

Agriculture is North Carolina’s largest industry, accounting for about $96 billion in annual economic impact.

NCA&T is a land grant university founded in 1891. It has more than 12,500 students, making it the nation’s largest historically black university. It produces more African American graduates in engineering and agriculture than any other university in the country and has more than 70,000 alumni.

(C) N.C. Biotech Center