Farming, growing, and producing foods are becoming less common skills in the United States, and local farmer Glenn Robinson is hard at work ensuring future generations are well versed in all things agriculture.
Hoping to gain the support of the county commissioners, he shared details about a proposed agriculture center project and monetary details needed to move forward.
“This will be a multi-purpose facility that can be used for anything you can dream of, but its primary purpose is agriculture and the education of Polk County as far as the students but also the adults,” Robinson said. “We cannot fill half of the high-paying jobs in the United States because we don’t have the qualified people going through these agriculture programs, and an agriculture program is not an old man on a tractor anymore. It involves any career you could talk about. Engineers, plant scientists, botanists- anything you could think of falls under the agriculture. We’re losing one acre of land every minute in the United States to development. Soon, we won’t have any agriculture land if we don’t teach these folks how to grow their own food.”
Robinson has been drafting, reviewing, and having agriculture center-related meetings for five months, but the plan is still very much in the rough draft phase. Robinson will be able to move forward with the facility only with the aid of the commissioners and locals willing to help.
“What I’m proposing is that we use federal, state, local, and private funding to do this thing,” Robinson mentioned. “We’re at the point where we have to fill out an application before we start applying for grants and private funding. That goes along with a feasibility state, the eligibility state, the architecture state, and things like that.”
He said there is some up-front money needed to get the project going to conduct a feasibility study so the application can move forward for grants.
A feasibility study will analyze the ins and outs of the project and highlight whether proceeding with agriculture center will be a viable, worthwhile approach to educating the public.
“I’ve talked with Grant Wolf over at the University of Georgia, and that’s a negotiable thing,” Robinson said. “If you’ve got a grant for it — which takes about 2 years to get, so we don’t really have time for that — so somewhere around that $5,000 to $7,000 mark.”
While no immediate action was taken, the commission shared their thoughts on the project and will be considering Robinson’s proposal in the future.
“I think it would be a tremendous asset for our county,” Vice-Chairman Hal Floyd said. “You’re right, we have to do the one-two-three’s and the a-b-c’s, but I do appreciate you and all the hard work you’ve done for this thing.”
“It’s amazing how this project has brought so much excitement so quickly,” commissioner Scotty Tillery said. “There’s a lot of people excited about it.”
Editor's note: This story has been updated online to reflect that SJ Correspondent Sean Williams wrote this article.