The Farm, Food, and Family Education Center: History & Timeline
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The “Randolph County Agriculture Center” began as a dream of our Voluntary Agricultural Board. Their vision birthed a one-stop shop for the governmental and regulatory agencies farmers and landowners used frequently. They had a vision for a facility to promote and invite the public to learn more about the importance of Agriculture in our county. In 2016 the center became part of the Randolph County Strategic Plan.
Three main goals remain the golden thread to the tapestry that is now the Farm, Food, and Family Education Center:
- Ensure County policy supports and enhances the ability of agriculture to continue to be a strong and viable component of the economy.
- Enhance the ability of farmers to produce and market their products through organizational networks and infrastructure.
- Promote educational programs about the benefit of agriculture as a profession that are targeted toward the younger population.
In December 2016, Randolph County Tourism Development Authority hired Magellan Strategy Group for a Feasibility Study. Completed in August 2017. In October 2017 – HH Architecture was chosen to do a preliminary design (Listening Sessions and Experts consulted) and S&ME, Inc conducted a Traffic Study, and ECS Southeast conducted an Environmental Study. In March of 2018, HH Architecture was hired for the Schematic Design of the $55.3 Million Ag Center. Randolph County worked to place a general obligation bond referendum on the November 2018 ballot. In mid-summer of 2018, a decision was made to pull the referendum, thus postponing the building of an “Ag Center.” In January 2019, HH Architecture was asked to redesign as a phased project, but the project has been dormant since then.
A few months before the start of the Covid-19 Pandemic, a new County Extension Director was named. Amid the chaos caused by Covid-19, the new Director, Kenny Sherin, was asked to gather his troops (employees) and put together a plan for Covid-19 Relief funds that the State of NC received from the Federal Government that could be used to build an Agricultural Center in Randolph County. The plans and documents were carefully thought out and put together with “all hands on deck” in a matter of 24 hours and submitted to Representative Allen McNeill per his request. This new vision was full of fresh and innovative ideas with an entirely new direction for how this center could serve ALL of the citizens of Randolph County. With a new direction came a new name: The Farm, Food, and Family Education Center.
Mission: “The Farm, Food, and Family Education Center is a dynamic, innovative, and collaborative place for people and organizations to build Farm, Food, and Family systems that strengthens economies, enhances resiliency, and builds community.”