GREENSBORO, N.C. - After waiting 20 years, The College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences at North Carolina A&T University is working on building a farm pavilion.

A&T held a groundbreaking ceremony Wednesday morning at the University Farm on McConnell Road in Greensboro.

The CAES Extension and Farm Pavilion will expand the farm's capacity for education, research and outreach.

The 17,000-square-foot structure will include an auditorium, laboratories, a demonstration kitchen, a 50-person classroom and a 400-person conference room.

USDA's National Institute for Food and Agriculture is funding the $5 million dollar project.

"The University Farm is ready for its renaissance with the start of the pavilion,'' said Dr. Shirley Hymon-Parker, interim dean of the CAES. "We've never been dormant, but breaking ground for our new pavilion is the first phase of a four-part building boom taking place at the farm. This growth will help us fulfill our mission to achieve excellence in the food, agricultural, family and environmental sciences."

University officials say USDA-NIFA will also provide financial support for three additional projects in the next four years.

The subsequent projects are an amphitheater, student and community gardens, and a community and urban food complex with a dairy, research labs, classrooms and a small business incubator.

The University Farm was created back in 1904 to provide food to the fledgling university's cafeteria.

The 492-acre farm is now the largest classroom on campus, a laboratory for agricultural research, and a showcase of the latest farming resources and technology.

"After spending 42 years of my life on this farm, I have seen it evolve," said Leon Moses, University Farm Superintendent. "It is an illustrious modern and model farm on a state and national level. My motto is 'excellence is an effort and not an accident,' so I firmly believe that the efforts to bring these new facilities to the farm have placed us on a sure path of excellence in agriculture."

The farm expansion is also expected to bring economic and development benefits for the east Greensboro corridor.

The project is expected to be complete in December 2019.

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