Articles, Blog

Agricultural Rebirth

September 12, 2019

The university is celebrating
150 years of agriculture, starting as Mass Aggie in 1863. And here today, we
are to break ground for a new venture, an
agricultural learning center. Steve Herbert came to our
Mass Farm Bureau Federation, talked to us about his vision
for a hands-on undergraduate learning center, his desire
to see the barn preserved. And he came to us
because he felt that with us being the largest
agricultural organization in the state, that we would be
able to probably pull it off to raise the money and to
get this thing rolling. A lot of my peers in the program
are really looking for ways to have occupations,
have jobs that are congruent with
our social values and environmental values. And I think that’s something
that Stockbridge School is really addressing and making it
available for young people who are passionate
about sustainability and passionate about
the environment. As you know, Massachusetts Farm
Bureau Federation originally chose to raise the
$500,000 for this project primarily to move the barn
from the center of campus over to this site. We feel that hands-on
undergraduate education was the root, the key, the
beginning of this university. And we are thrilled
to see it come back. The agricultural
learning center is being centered on
a 40-acre field right on the edge of campus. On behalf of our campus, I
want to thank the families who have tended this farm
for more than a century. They preserved
farming so that we can educate our current
and future UMass stewards on how to create
abundance for generations to follow. My dad would be so pleased
to know that agriculture is going to live
on in this area. This is just embarking on
something new, sustainable farming. I walk by the horse
barn every day. And there’s a potato
digger from the 1950s that’s sitting rusted in there. And it’s a building
that’s impossible to miss, because it doesn’t belong. It’s kind of out of sorts. But I think when
it’s reappropriated for this agricultural
learning center, it’s going to be a great
piece of history that’s brought back to life. And the purpose of the
agricultural learning center is to learn by doing. As Levi Stockbridge used
to remind the students, we learn by doing. Levi seemed to be very
much ahead of the curve when it came to understanding
land grant universities. And he moved quickly
after the legislation was approved in 1862 to
put Mass Aggie on the map. I have a long legacy, now
being the fifth generation in 150 years. If Levi was here right now,
he would say, go ahead. Pull strong. Go UMass. Or as he would say
probably, root, hog, or die.

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