WHEN: October 23, 2012
WHERE: Mountain Horticultural Crops Research and Extension Center
New CALS Dean Richard Linton is on the road, getting to know North Carolina and how the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences is making a difference every day in the lives of the state’s people. Day One: Mills River and the Mountain Horticultural Crops Research and Extension Center. The center, near Asheville, serves as a hub for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences in the western part of North Carolina. More than 40 faculty and staff members conduct applied research and empower western North Carolina’s people through extension education programs related to agriculture, the environment, family and community. The center is known for its innovative work related to tomato breeding, fish farming, herbs and organics, Christmas trees — and much more.
ITINERARY: A hops yard, sturgeon four to five feet long, energy crops considerably higher than an elephant’s eye – these were just a few of the things new College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Dean Rich Linton encountered during a day at the Mountain Horticultural Crops Research and Extension Center in Mills River.
The center was the first stop on a North Carolina tour designed to begin to acquaint Linton with CALS programs and people beyond the North Carolina State University campus.
In addition to touring the center, Dean Linton met the new neighbors. The Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. of Chico, California, is building a brewery and warehouse just across the French Broad River from the research station. Sierra Nevada site coordinator Don Schjeldahl provided a tour of the construction site and described plans for the Sierra Nevada presence at the site.
Sierra Nevada plans to begin brewing beer in the new facility by next July and will employ approximately 200 people; however, the company plans considerably more than just a brewery and warehouse. The site will include a restaurant and outdoor theater, while land around the brewery will be set aside for agricultural uses and other outdoor activities such as hiking.
Schjeldahl said Sierra Nevada considered numerous sites in neighboring states for the facility and chose the Asheville area in part because of community support and the local brewing culture. He added that the presence of the Horticultural Crops Research and Extension Center was also a factor in the decision.
In addition to Sierra Nevada, the dean toured various labs and visited with faculty at the center. He visited a hops yard developed by Dr. Jeanine Davis as well as towering energy crops with which Dr. Tom Ranney is working. He also learned about Dr. Jeff Hinshaw’s work raising sturgeon for caviar.
Linton’s visit coincided with an observance of the 25th anniversary of the center building and a meeting at the center of the North Carolina Cooperative Extension State Advisory Council. He told advisory council members he decided to come to N.C. State and CALS because of “three p’s; people, passion and possibilities,” adding that he has been surprised by how many people attend CALS events and by the passion people feel for the college.
Linton asked council members to continue to give CALS administrators their best advice.
“This is going to be an administration that listens,” he said. “I learned a long time ago that talking with people who are really experienced, that’s where you learn.”
— Dave Caldwell (see more photos below)