What We Are The Future of Agriculture is in Our Hands
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What is planned?
The Polk County Agriculture Education Center is envisioned be a fully accessible 40,000 square foot center that will include a large, dividable classroom space; offices for the Georgia funded Young Farmer position, Extension Officer, and 4-H staff; a covered livestock area; enclosed arena with flexible seating for 300-400 people; a commercial teaching kitchen and a cannery.
According to the feasibility study conducted by the University of Georgia Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development, we should see a positive economic impact on the community, as determined by previous studies, of $734,654 annually once we are established and with proper management. Additionally, the study projected an increase use of local retail and hospitality based businesses. Finally, it found substantial potential for a positive economic impact in the surrounding rural counties of $1,015,535.
What are the benefits?
The Polk County Agriculture Education Center will benefit Polk and surrounding counties by offering services and opportunities currently not provided locally. We are working with the two local farmers markets to offer fresh food at the Center, once built. This will allow residents can buy fresh produce and immediately preserve it using the cannery. Additionally, one market is licensed to accept Georgia Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program which allows lower income individuals to buy products for half the asking price using a token system.
Partnerships with the local UGA Extension Office, FFA, 4-H, the County Nutritionist, Polk County Cattlemen’s Association, Polk Beekeepers and Polk County Farm Bureau will allow us to hold classes in healthy cooking; demonstrations of modern sustainable agricultural methods and technology; practical agriculture application such as an onsite garden and hives; a community teaching kitchen; farmers market and cannery. We plan to partner with local food pantries to distribute excess fresh produce. Finally, the planned arena and covered livestock area can be used for our annual farm day where elementary students learn about agriculture of all types. These resources are planned to be free or significantly low cost to Polk County residents. The center will be maintained using private and foundation donations, grants, local, state and federal funds. Additionally, organizations outside of the county will pay fees for the use of the facilities that will offset the cost of classes to residents.