CAFNR shows off research at South Farm

The College of Agriculture Food and Natural Resources runs 1,452 acres on the farm.
Fulton resident Gretta Patten picks out a pumpkin at the 2010 South Farm Showcase on Saturday morning at MU South Farm on New Haven Road. This event was put on by the MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources and featured activities such as a corn maze, live music and booths featuring CAFNR organizations.

The MU South Farm held its annual showcase Saturday where students showed off examples of studies and research from the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources.

The 1,452 acres on South Farm are used for student and faculty research of the animal, plant and food sciences. The property contains a beef farm, sheep farm, Discovery Ridge Research Park, Jefferson Farms and Gardens as well as the equine breeding program.

Fun and a little education is the goal of the showcase, according to Beverley Spencer, the executive staff assistant to the dean of research. She along with Donna Thomas, are in charge of running the showcase.

“This is to invite the community to see what goes on at the farm besides corn and cows,” she said. “It is an outdoor classroom for our students as well as a research farm.”

Among the many activities the showcase offered, there was expert turf diagnosis for visitors needing lawn care assistance, master gardeners willing to help with horticultural questions, Tiger Garden, a petting zoo, corn maze, cockroach races and more.

“We’re broadly showcasing our animal sciences, plant sciences and our extension,” Spencer said.

While budget cuts prevented last year’s showcase, this year, volunteers were readily available. Student groups such as the Agronomy Club were there to gain public and student awareness.

“We’re trying to get our club a little bit more known in the university,” club president Michael Frank said. “Get our members more involved.”

Senior Michelle Folta said she thinks it’s a good way for little kids to learn a bit more about agriculture.

The showcase was free to all, thanks to the farm’s taxpayer funding. The idea came about in 2006, when the farm began to put up a fence on the edge of their property.

“Our neighbors got a little scared,” Spencer said.

Spencer said that attendance in previous years has gotten up to 2,000 people. This year she estimated about 1,200 came. She attributed the dip in attendance to competition with the Roots and Blues Festival downtown.

Columbia resident Melody Burks said the main reason they decided to attend was for the kids.

“I think it’s pretty cool,” she said. “I didn’t know they did this -- that they have all these different animals.”

The petting zoo seemed to be a crowd favorite among the kids. It was located in the Equine Barn, and displayed a variety of farm animals, including swine, calves, cows, foals, goats and sheep.

“It’s cool,” six-year-old Alec Adkins said. “My favorite part was seeing the pigs and the horses and going through the corn maze.”

The barn is usually home to the farm’s horse-breeding program and displayed two live horses with their skeletons painted on.

“Here at the showcase, housing our petting zoo is the only opportunity for people to see what we do,” senior Miranda Roth said. “Most people don’t know we breed, raise, train, then try to sell these horses.”

In the barn, there was also a cow with a hole in its side, known as the “glass cow.” Spencer said it is used for research purposes, but people at the showcase usually find it fascinating.

Burks said that her son was particularly interested in the cow.

Columbia resident Brian Slingerland said the children’s enjoyment was all that mattered at the end of the day. His daughter, Autumn Slingerland, also favored the petting zoo over the other activities.

“They saw those cockroaches,” he said. “If they like it, that’s what’s important.”

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