The average age of the American farmer is 58. Since communities are not reproducing the next generation of farmers, universities are establishing training centers to model new concepts and technologies in farming. The Center for Farm and Food System Entrepreneurship is both an immersive farmer training program in the rhythms of farm life and a public facility for hosting gatherings that celebrate value-added food products. Part of the University of Arkansas’ and Arkansas Division of Agriculture’s farm operations near campus, the center is the public face of agriculture where farmers and the public meet. Student farmers learn by farming, from organic vegetable production in fields and greenhouses, to machine repair, marketing, business planning, value-added food innovation, and cooking.
Akin to farmsteads, the training complex arranges different building types around a metaphoric barnyard. Entry to the Training Loft and Event Space is layered starting from parking gardens shaded by a fruit orchard, to a garage/shop serving as an entry portal, adjacent greenhouses, and a logistics court that frames entry to the central Training Loft. The complex sits amidst working fields. The Training Loft updates barn technology through use of sustainable timber structure engineered from glued laminated timber (Glulam) and cross-laminated timber (CLT) construction. A reticulated timber structure at the entry porch and public area of the Training Loft provides a sense of warmth and intimacy within the Barnyard, while its opposite edge presents a monumental front to the city, east of the farm.
Harvest banquets for the public are held seasonally, expanding food literacy throughout the community while extending the value chain for farmers. The Center for Farm and Food articulates the farm as a next-generation civic infrastructure central to community well-being. Inspired by the agrarian vision of Thomas Jefferson (one of America’s greatest architect and farmer) in combining agriculture and civilization, the center projects a civic presence and gateway effect to the university among working fields.
The Center for Farm and Food is inspired by the agrarian vision of one of America’s greatest architects and farmers, Thomas Jefferson, the apogee in blending agricultural utility with civic presence. the center projects a civic presence and gateway effect as motorists enter and leave the university district.
The University of Arkansas Community Design Center is an outreach center of the Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design, and one of a few university-based teaching offices in the United States dedicated to delivering urban design work. Originated in 1995, the center advances creative development in Arkansas through design, research, and education solutions. Nationally recognized in public-interest design, the center has its own downtown facilities and 5-6 professional design/planning staff, some who also teach. Beyond the focus on urban projects, UACDC has developed eight place-making platforms to shape civic design and public policy at state and municipal levels. These interdisciplinary platforms include 'missing middle housing,' 'agricultural urbanism,' 'transit-oriented development,' 'context-sensitive street design,' 'watershed urbanism,' 'big box urbanism,' 'smart growth,' and 'low impact development,' vocabularies which are locally articulated but hold universal currency.