Hinckley, ME – The Foundation for Maine’s Community Colleges has been awarded $150,000 from the Elmina B. Sewall Foundation of Freeport to support infrastructure development necessary to launch an education hub for agricultural sciences at Kennebec Valley Community College (KVCC).
KVCC is locating its Sustainable Maine Agriculture Resource and Technology (SMART) Hub on a 120-acre farming section of the new 600-acre Harold Alfond campus in Hinckley – the site of the former Good Will Farm that has lain fallow for over a decade.
The grant funds will be used to renovate a landmark barn structure not only to safely and efficiently store farm equipment and supplies, but also to be used in part as a field-based classroom and technology-enhanced laboratory space.
Students are now being admitted to a newly-created two-year Associate of Applied Science degree program in sustainable agriculture; classes will begin at KVCC on August 26. The program will be the first of its kind in Maine, and the first academic program to be based at the Alfond campus.
KVCC’s 120-acre SMART Hub will be developed as a regional and statewide academic and technical cluster dedicated agricultural sciences education, including 20 acres of tillable sustainable fields, 90 acres of pastureland and hayfields, a farm pond, barn structures, as well as classroom and laboratory space.
The sustainable agriculture program will be followed by other complementary and innovative degree and certificate programs with a sustainable farm-to-table focus. The new KVCC Center for Farm-to-Table Innovation is slated for construction this coming academic year. This new KVCC campus in Hinckley provides an ideal environment for dynamic learning in sustainable agriculture, food processing, food security, place-based culinary arts production, renewable energy applications, business entrepreneurship, and early childhood education related to wellness and healthy living.
Agriculture has an estimated $1.7 billion impact on the Maine economy, and the state is at the forefront of the nation’s vibrant organic, artisanal, and locally grown food movements. KVCC’s expanded campus will strengthen Maine’s growing food-based economy and provide a working laboratory for Maine farmers, entrepreneurs, educators, and students of all ages.
In spite of the central importance of agriculture to the Maine economy and its significant growth potential, until now the state has lacked a two-year degree program in agricultural sciences to prepare the next generation of skilled workers for this growing sector of the economy.
As the Maine agriculture industry evolves, its growth and sustainability will be dependent on a skilled and entrepreneurial workforce, one familiar with innovative farming techniques, sophisticated marketing approaches, and in-depth knowledge of food safety, security, and health.
This latest addition to KVCC will also offer unique new opportunities for the College to further engage with local businesses and the community.
“These are exciting times at KVCC and in Maine’s sustainable agricultural scene thanks to the generosity of individuals, regional businesses, and foundations such as the Sewall Foundation,” KVCC President Richard Hopper said.
To learn more about the new sustainable agriculture program and how to register, contact the Admissions Department at KVCC at 453-5035 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
More on the program is also available online at: http://www.kvcc.me.edu/Pages/Public-Relations/Sustainable-Agriculture-promotion-page.
The Elmina B. Sewall Foundation was established by Mrs. Elmina Brewster Sewall of Kennebunk in 1982. The Foundation strives to enhance the quality of life for those in Maine through conservation of the natural environment and support for the well-being of animals and humans. The Sewall Foundation seeks to inspire the generosity of others and empower those who share its vision to work together for healthy, vibrant communities.
The Foundation for Maine’s Community Colleges is dedicated to ensuring that the state’s seven community colleges have the resources they need to provide a high quality, affordable, and accessible college education for Maine people.
For more information on the Foundation, go to www.maineccfoundation.org.
Kennebec Valley Community College is one of seven community colleges in Maine. KVCC prepares full-time and part-time students to enter the job market, to transfer to colleges and universities, and to achieve their professional and personal goals. Programs and services support the economic growth of the community in response to changing needs.
In 2011 and again in 2012, KVCC was named one of the top community colleges in the nation by the Aspen Institute, placing in the top 10 percent of two-year colleges based on student success rates.
To learn more about KVCC, go to www.kvcc.me.edu.