2017-10-16 / Front Page

Farm rebranded as agriculture, environment center

Times Record Staff

A COW GRAZES at the newly rebranded Wolfe’s Neck Center for Agriculture and the Environment. 
NATHAN STROUT / THE TIMES RECORD A COW GRAZES at the newly rebranded Wolfe’s Neck Center for Agriculture and the Environment. NATHAN STROUT / THE TIMES RECORD FREEPORT

Wolfe’s Neck Farm announced Thursday that it was changing its name to Wolfe’s Neck Center for Agriculture and the Environment, a change that reflects its evolving mission and work.

“Today we are announcing our plans to establish Wolfe’s Neck Center as an observatory for advancing organic and regenerative farming practices to reduce agriculture’s impact on climate change,” said Executive Director Dave Herring.

The name change was announced in the newly renovated Pote Barn, which will be used in the Organic Dairy Program.

While maintaining the regular programming they’re known for, Wolfe’s Neck Center will be working toward advancing organic and regenerative agriculture. This will expand on the center’s training program for organic dairy farmers, which was launched in 2014 in response to the dwindling number of organic dairy farms.

“We saw this sort of human problem, which was that we didn’t have enough new farmers coming into this space,” said Stonyfield Organic Chairman and Co-Founder Gary Hirshberg. “We’re obviously very hopeful that the graduates of this program will go on to kind of restore these farms.”

Wolfe’s Neck Center partnered with Stonyfield in 2014, when the company secured a grant of $1.69 million to launch the initial training program. This latest capital campaign, which has already raised $7.5 million of a planned $11.5 million, will expand the center’s efforts to train farmers and apprentices in organic farming and climate change mitigation.

“This is, I think, bigger than maybe all of us realize,” said Hirshberg, calling the center one-of-a-kind.

According to Wolfe’s Neck Center, it is estimated that as much as 25 percent of greenhouse gas emission come from the food system. Training the next generation of farmers to use regenerative agriculture techniques could reduce that.

“This group of farmers coming up now have the potential to be the generation to turn agriculture from a net source of climate change to a net sink — a place where we can actually store carbon,” said Hirshberg.

Despite the updated mission for the center, the summer camp and other programs for which the center is know in the community will also be expanded.

“Our children spent their early years here, running around, gathering eggs, feeding goats, feeding hay to the cows and pigs when they could,” said Rep. Sarah Gideon. “They later were able to come here, have an amazing camp experience, spend a week in third grade learning every last detail about the farm and really begin to understand agriculture and its importance to each of us as individuals, but also to all of us as a state.”

New facilities are being completed and planned to enhance those programs as part of the capital campaign.

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