Mill Spring Ag Center holds open house Sunday, May 2

Published 5:57 pm Wednesday, April 28, 2010

An open house and plant sale is planned at the Mill Spring Agricultural Center this Sunday, May 2, from 12 to 5 p.m. We periodically will be hosting open houses at the new Ag Center to allow opportunity for the general public to become familiar with the mission of our center and to see its progress, says Lynn Sprague, agricultural economic development director for the county.

The Ag Centers first open house was held in January, just weeks after the Polk Soil and Water Conservation District received the building as a gift from a private investment group from Birmingham, Al. We received over 200 people that cold January Sunday excited and curious to learn what good use was being made of this historic building and much beloved former school, says Sprague.

Since then, over 400 community members have volunteered in the reclaiming and restoration processes that Soil and Water and the Ag Office board and staff members have implemented. More than $300,000 in commercial equipment, fixtures, and supplies have been donated towards the current and developing core programs at the Ag Center.

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Existing core programs include farmland preservation, grower grants, community workshops and seminars, farmers markets and Friends of Agriculture meal meetings. Developing core programs made possible through the donation of this new space include a commercial kitchen, conference Hall and meeting rooms, small business classes and support center, Farm to Table caf and retail store, PolkFresh CSA distribution center, a 500-seat auditorium and supportive special events coordination and catering services.

When folks stop by this Sunday, they will be welcomed by a local growers plant sale on the front lawn, refreshments and visitor registration inside, guided tours of the building and a vision of upcoming programs, says Sprague.

Mill Spring school alumni are especially happy about saving the building and the sustainable programming going to be taking place there. Our rural heritage is one of a self-supportive life and community spirit, including growing our own food and livestock, hand-work and local craftsmanship for the supplies and fixtures we needed, and passing this way of life along to the next generation, says one former student who graduated from the school over 70 years ago.

Mill Spring Agricultural Development Center, located in the former Mill Spring School, is located on School Road, in Mill Spring, near the cross-roads of Hwy. 108 and Hwy. 9. Call 828-894-2281 for further information.