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Southwest Florida Research and Education Center to dedicate new building Jan. 5

A $2 million expansion at the UF/IFAS SWFREC houses three new labs and 11 offices for six new faculty members.

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IMMOKALEE, Fla. — The walls have been painted, the new floor tiles have been set and new science equipment has been installed in time for the dedication of the University of Florida Southwest Florida Research and Education Center’s 7,000-square-foot expansion. The dedication ceremony is set for Tuesday, Jan. 5, at 10 a.m.

The Florida Legislature granted $2 million to UF to build the facility, which houses three new labs and 11 offices for six new faculty members.

“This new addition is helping to advance top-notch science at this vital center for agricultural research,” said Jack Payne, senior vice president of agriculture and natural resources at UF. “With state of the art equipment and the best researchers in Florida, this building is more than just cinderblock and mortar – it is a hub of the best our state has to offer to our growers for generations to come.”

Situated on 320 acres, the center serves growers, farmers and other clients in Collier, Charlotte, Glades, Hendry and Lee counties.  SWFREC faculty members have expertise in seven disciplines: agricultural economics, citrus horticulture, entomology, plant pathology, soil and water science, vegetable horticulture, and water resource engineering. The existing structure is 21,000 square feet, with the expansion bringing the total to 28,000 square feet.

The SWFREC houses plant diagnostic labs, which analyze and diagnose diseases such as citrus greening, citrus canker, black spot on tomatoes and peppers, and watermelon vine decline.  The agricultural economics team offers a Farm Labor Supervisor Training Program. SWFREC faculty also facilitate the Citrus Health Management Areas program, a coordinated pesticide program to help stave off citrus greening.

”This expansion project affords our center the opportunity to form more interactive disciplinary teams to solve critical issues facing agriculture in southwest Florida,” said Calvin Arnold, SWFREC center director .  “Our new citrus horticulturist is on board, and our new plant physiologist will be here in January.  Other faculty positions will soon follow.”

Gurreet Brar, a citrus horticulturist, began in November and Ute Albrecht a plant physiologist, begins her new job Jan. 4.

The architect on the expansion project is Ponikvar & Associates out of Gainesville, while the contractor is The Brentwood Companies of Archer, Fla.

The dedication ceremony begins at 10 a.m. at 2685 North State Road 29, just north of Immokalee. For more information, contact Becky Decker at 239-658-3420 or

By Kimberly Moore Wilmoth, 352-294-3302,

Source: Jack Payne, 352-392-1971,

Calvin Arnold, (239) 658-3400,

Photo Caption: A $2 million expansion at the UF/IFAS SWFREC houses three new labs and 11 offices for six new faculty members.