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SC State 1890 Launches New Research Farm


SC State 1890 Launches New Research Farm

By Eva Moore | Photos by Maurice Mitchell and Pressmark LLC

This story appears in the April 15, 2021 issue of the South Carolina Market Bulletin.

University and local officials and Commissioner of Agriculture Hugh Weathers gathered March 26 for a ribboncutting and groundbreaking at South Carolina State University’s future research and demonstration farm.

Located in the small community of Olar in Bamberg County, about 30 miles from SC State’s Orangeburg campus, the 200-acre property is the university’s first research farm in 50 years. Researchers at the farm will focus on topics including vegetable production, hemp, agroforestry, atmospheric water generation, and drone analytics.

“This farm will be a test site for the latest in farming technology and equipment,” said SC State President James Clark.

As part of its land-grant mission and legacy as a historically black school, SC State’s farm will have a special focus on helping small and minority farmers around the state, Clark explained.

SC State bought the property for $750,000 using USDA funding available to land-grant universities to strengthen and increase their capabilities in the agriculture and food-related sciences, according to a university release.

The facility will have a training center with offices, meeting spaces, laboratories, classrooms and equipment storage.

A greenhouse complex is also planned. Controlled Environment Agriculture is quickly becoming a big part of farming, explained Dr. Louis Whitesides, who runs the 1890 Research and Extension program.

“We would not do our farmers justice if we did not get in this space to participate,” Whitesides said. “Farming is changing as we know it and we need to make sure we stay on the cutting edge so our small and minority farmers don’t get passed by.”

Commissioner Weathers said the new facility will help ensure a future for South Carolina agriculture, attracting students to study agriculture and developing research and techniques to help farmers.

“One of our goals is to find that next generation of farmers,” Weathers said. “We call agribusiness an industry, but it’s people.”


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