Campus: Cal Poly Pomona -- October 26, 2001
Cultivating Understanding - Cal Poly Pomona's Agriscapes
Project To Promote Agricultural, Environmental Awareness
What kid doesn't like to get dirty? Digging in and becoming one with
the earth is something nearly everybody does during their childhood.
Somewhere along the way, however, most of us shift away from the soil.
Outside of mowing lawns and occasionally weeding the flower garden, urban
living here in Southern California affords little chance to expand the
nature side of our character. Yet nearly 25 percent of California's jobs
are in some way related to the food and fiber industry, and the 250 major
crops grown here account for $20 billon of the state's economy.
Cal Poly Pomona wants to reestablish that link to the land while at the
same time providing a learning resource for elementary school students,
their families and the community. That's the idea behind AGRIscapes, a
40-acre diversified research, education and demonstration center scheduled
to open on Nov. 28.
Located south of Temple Avenue and just west of the university's main
campus entrance, AGRIscapes is an indoor/outdoor facility intended to
help visitors recognize the role of agriculture in today's society.
AGRIscapes will include a visitor center, special exhibit area, a small
theater and an expanded university farm store plus administrative offices,
teaching laboratories, greenhouses and research facilities. Gardens, crop
fields and grazing areas will surround the newly constructed buildings
and parking lot, offering a picturesque and informative setting.
While it will be home to ongoing collegiate course work, projects and
research throughout the year, the main focus of AGRIscapes involves community
access and education.
"I imagine school buses coming down the road every day, each carrying
3rd thru 8th graders," says Peggy McLaughlin, professor in the university's
horticulture, plant & soil science department. "They'll learn
about where food comes from and about science and environmental issues.
They'll learn about what we take from the land and what we restore. I
also see kids bringing their families back here on weekends, where as
a family they'll learn the importance agriculture plays in California's
Recycling and environmental education will be an important segment of
the AGRIscapes experience. Funded in part by a $5.6 million contribution
from the Sanitation Districts of Los Angeles County, the facility is adjacent
to the recently closed Spadra Landfill and the university's Center for
Regenerative Studies. Interactive exhibits will provide background and
detail the important responsibility society faces to maintain and replenish
the earth's many resources.
Elementary students will be shown how technology has changed the way food
is produced and processed. There will also be hands-on lessons reviewing
methods used to milk cows, make bread and grow crops on an 1880s farm.
While parents and others can see the various displays on weekends, of
particular interest will be the enhanced Farm Store, which provides a
spectacular shopping opportunity. Already open for business, it serves
as an outlet for goods produced at the university farm, nursery, orchard
as well as specialty items from throughout the state. Proceeds from Farm
Store sales help fund scholarships for the College of Agriculture.
The goal of AGRIscapes is to afford an entertaining, educational experience
for all ages that will offer a sense of history and increase awareness
and appreciation for agriculture in today's society.
"People will come to find out about food, clothing, planting and
landscaping," says College of Agriculture dean Wayne Bidlack. "It
can come to a point where Southern California - and possibly all of California
- will recognize this site as a place where the public learns about agriculture."