Carole L. Jaworski
Norm Leppla (407) 884-2034
APOPKA — University of Florida President John V. Lombardi will host a groundbreaking ceremony for the new UF consolidated Central Florida Research and Education Center (CFREC) in Apopka on Tuesday, Oct. 28. The ceremony will take place on the grounds adjacent to the existing center at 10:30 a.m.
The new center is the result of merging three UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) centers at Apopka, Leesburg and Sanford into one expanded center. It was made possible by a $12.5 million appropriation from the state legislature.
“The consolidation of our three centers into one center at Apopka clearly recognizes the university’s commitment to providing outstanding service to the citizens of central Florida,” Lombardi said. “IFAS’s exceptional research and extension resources can remain focused and supported in the combined center at a much higher level of service to the citizens and businesses of this region than would have been possible with the fragmented resources at separate sites.
“The collaboration of the legislators, local officials, business groups and others from central Florida has produced this outstanding result and the University of Florida is proud to continue the tradition of IFAS research and service,” Lombardi said.
The merger represents a significant enhancement of all three programs, said Norm Leppla, CFREC director. “The advantage is that it gives the whole central Florida region one-stop shopping from a single location. Not only will we provide research on ornamentals, fruits and vegetables, we will provide an educational program that directly serves grower and industry needs for education and training.”
In addition to expanded research and extension activities, the new center will become a teaching campus, offering UF degree programs in environmental horticulture, urban pest management, agribusiness and landscape contracting.
It will eventually employ up to 100 people.
Construction at the site is slated to begin in February. Completion of the center’s two main buildings – a teaching facility and a research building – is expected during the spring of 1998.
The groundbreaking ceremony will include not only traditional ceremonial shovels, but also a commemorative time capsule with mementos from each of the three sites to symbolize the merger. These include historic documents and seeds of fruit, vegetable and ornamental plants developed by CFREC faculty and staff.
Of the three merged sites, the Sanford center is the oldest, established in 1928. It presently conducts research on vegetables and landscape ornamentals. The Leesburg center was established in 1934. It conducts research on vegetables and grapes. The Apopka center was established in 1968 to conduct research on ornamentals.
“The merged center will create a critical mass of plant breeders, pest and disease specialists, experts in production agriculture and allied scientists whose synergy will surpass all previous expectations,” Leppla said.
-30-EDITOR’S NOTE: For more information or to receive directions to the site, call (407) 884-2034. Persons with disabilities requiring special accommodations should call (352) 392-0437 by Oct. 20 so that proper consideration may be given to the request.