Suwannee Valley agricultural community celebrates UF/IFAS center pavilion
On Nov. 18, the UF/IFAS North Florida Research and Education Center – Suwannee Valley (NFREC-SV) celebrated its newly constructed 4,200-square-foot pavilion with a ribbon cutting ceremony.
The pavilion, which can be converted from an open-air space to an enclosed one, was made possible by more than 80 donors from the Suwannee Valley area, said Bob Hochmuth, assistant center director.
“The support from our agricultural community to make the pavilion a reality made the fundraising phase one of the most humbling yet rewarding things I have ever done. The overwhelming generosity of the 80 donors has provided the funds for us to build an incredible pavilion which will enhance future educational events in this community for decades to come,” Hochmuth said.
Located on 400 acres in Live Oak, Florida, the center maintains numerous research projects related to the region’s major commodities, such as watermelon and peanuts, as well as specialty crops, hydroponics and water resources.
“The Suwannee Valley is home to nearly one in five Florida farms,” said J. Scott Angle, UF vice president for agriculture and natural resources and the leader of UF/IFAS. “The pavilion will allow us to deliver to larger groups and in a setting more conducive to learning what farmers need to know to stay profitable under changing conditions. The donors’ support tells us there’s an appetite for this information, and that they trust UF/IFAS to deliver it.”
The ribbon cutting took place during the annual Florida Farm Bureau Suwannee CARES event, which several hundred people attended.
“The North Florida Research and Education Center is a shining star for agricultural research and education in Florida and especially the Suwannee Valley,” said Kevin Morgan, assistant to the president,of the Florida Farm Bureau. “Producers depend on cutting edge science and the type of practical and profitable solutions that are generated by this center. The improvements to the center over the last few years will greatly enhance learning opportunities for all producers. Florida Farm Bureau is proud to support UF IFAS and the North Florida Research and Education Center.”