Commentary: Agricenter is a crown jewel in our own backyard

Agricenter International in Memphis, Tenn., is the world’s largest urban agricultural research and education facility.

For over 35 years, this self-sustaining, non-profit organization in Shelby County has facilitated agricultural research and educational programs while promoting environmental conservation, natural area preservation and recreational opportunities.

It is a hands-on showcase for how production agriculture provides a safe and abundant global food and fiber supply.

Stephen L. Shields

The strength of Agricenter lies in our ability to conduct applied field research and development in the heart of Shelby County, the epicenter of Southern row-crop agriculture.

The field research services we offer help develop new technologies, products and management practices to apply those technologies, and educate producers and consumers alike, of their benefits.

We perform crop research for major companies, but also for startups like Delta BioRenewables and AgSmarts.

The field trials include feasibility studies of new crop uses, farm equipment improvements, and methods for land, soil, and water conservation.

Each year Agricenter hosts educational sessions for more than 4,000 K-12 students from urban schools, introducing them to the importance of sustainable agriculture and the importance of healthy eating. Children who have never seen a farm, row crops, open fields, forests or lakes can learn about them at Agricenter.

Based on grade level, teachers choose from a list of eight courses that tie into their curriculum. Students can become familiar with seeds and fruit; production crops like corn, soybeans, and cotton; forestry; pollution and recycling; and the water cycle.

What if a school cannot afford bus costs to transport their students to Agricenter? No problem! Through annual fundraising we are able to provide bus scholarships that cover their fare.

A visitor to our Agricenter International campus will be impressed by its current and future value in enriching our lives and improving our economy. You will enjoy making use of this “crown jewel” here in our own backyard of the Delta.

You are invited to come walk our trails, bring children and adults to learn at our Outdoor Classroom, visit our Farmers Market, learn about solar power generation and take time to enjoy the many great shows and events featured at Agricenter. For more information visit www.agricenter.org or call (901) 757-7777.

Shields is a founding partner of Jackson Shields Yeiser Holt Attorneys at Law. He serves as Chairman of the Board of Directors of Agricenter International.

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