Jefferson Farms opens its barn doors

Saturday, July 19, 2008 | 6:20 p.m. CDT; updated 4:27 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

COLUMBIA — Just two hours after Jefferson Farm and Gardens opened its gates, over 170 people wound their way through the grounds Saturday morning.

The farm, which is funded by the Thomas Jefferson Agricultural Institute, kicked off the first of three open houses planned to show off the progress that has been made since construction started in 2006. The Thomas Jefferson Agricultural Institute is a nonprofit organization that focuses on education and research.

“We had no idea how many people would come out today,” said Communications and Public Relations Specialist Jennifer Smith. “We’ve been telling people about the work that’s going on out here. It’s good to get an enthusiastic response.”

In addition to walking through the colorful day lily gardens, visitors could take hay rides around the farm, visit Diva and Dixie, the two halflinger horses housed in the barn, or stroll around the farm’s man-made lake.

The farm and gardens are scheduled to open to the public in spring of 2009 and the Institute hopes to provide a place where people can explore Midwestern conservation efforts, gardening and farming in hands-on ways.

“It will be a living classroom,” said Smith.

Change Tan, a biology teacher for Columbia Public Schools visiting the farm with her family, said the site would be a great teaching tool for kids.

“I think this is very good,” Tan said. “You can definitely see the educational elements.”

Jack Beckett, a botanist, said that flowers and plants along the pond intrigued him.

“This is the first chance that the public gets to really see what’s going on,” Beckett said. “It should be really interesting when they get it fully developed.”

The next two open houses are 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Aug. 2 and Aug. 30. Jefferson Farms will also be a part of the South Farm Showcase, sponsored by MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resource, on Sept. 27.

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