Sketch from the presentation to the Planning Commission show, in 2D line sketch, the area UVM will upgrade this summer (the solid color). The renovations will not take place until this summer.

Planning Commission Applauds UVM South Campus Plan

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Thursday February 27, 2014

University of Vermont Presents Miller Farm Phase I 

After listening to a presentation from the University of Vermont about its vision for South Campus located in South Burlington, the Planning Commission gave an enthusiastic round of applause. 

Nearly three years after that May 2011 meeting, the same group of UVM planning and agricultural experts returned before the Planning Commission January 28, 2014 with an update on the University Master Plan for the area.
UVM is one of the largest stakeholders in the City of South Burlington, and the university’s South Campus is used for research on agriculture, bio-research, horticulture, and natural areas management.

Lani Ravin, an associate planner for Campus Planning Services at UVM, recalled that the university shared with the Planning Commission its hopes for strengthening the educational goals and purposes for the Miller Farm and the Horticulture Research Center (Hort Farm). As development of the University Master Plan progressed, more work has been fleshed out for the Miller Farm, which was the topic of the evening’s presentation.

Miller Farm, off of Spear St., is home to livestock, whereas the Hort Farm off of Green Mountain Dr. is plant-based, Ravin explained.

Tom Vogelmann, dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at UVM, presented Phase I of the Miller Farm.

If all the planning for the project were completed at once, it would cost about $30 million, he began. Instead, the University will be conducting the project in phased developments with a 20-year vision in mind. Assistant Dean Josie Davis of the UVM College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, later explained to The Other Paper that the project will be “accomplished through 100% of College of Agriculture and Life Sciences funding with a combination of one-time funds, research endowment, and gift funds.”

Before focusing on the specific vision, Vogelmann pointed to UVM’s strengths, opportunities, and the unique characteristics which separate it from other colleges and universities with agricultural lands for educational and research purposes.“We have a working farm within an urban agricultural interface, so we have a wonderful opportunity for education, a wonderful opportunity to engage with the public,” he said. 

“So we’ve got something unique here at the University of Vermont that I think we really need to capitalize upon,” he continued.

Vogelmann explained that renovations would include deconstructing the old pole barns in the area and using the space to create new teaching facilities for a student-run dairy herd known as CREAM (the Cooperative for Real Education in Agriculture Management). The project is set to take place this summer. If the funds are appropriately raised, UVM also hopes to have an attached research barn.

Along with these changes, the university will work to diversify the farm; the future could invite more greenhouses, aquaculture, biofuels, and renewable energy. 

As for livestock, cows and horses have occupied the farm in its history, and the university over-wintered goats, according to Vogelmann; next summer, folks can keep an eye out for sheep.

“Our vision is to make this farm the cutting-edge of what’s going to be needed to have farms be viable for the future,” he said.

UVM is also focusing on making the farm energy neutral. This progressive perspective is currently evident with installments such as the solar panel roof on the horse barn.

As the Miller Farm takes shape to better the education and research experience of its students in agricultural studies, it will also open up windows of educational opportunities for other students, particularly those in engineering.

“We’ve done an energy audit of the Miller Farm to figure out what it would take to be energy neutral,” Vogelmann said. “We actually hired some engineering students to help us do this. The future is really going to require a lot of collaboration across the disciplines and it will also require the talents of social scientists who can tell us what the public is thinking and feeling.”

With that, the Planning Commission once again responded with  a round of applause. It was the sound of approval for what will soon be UVM’s dynamic farm, in its beautiful South Burlington home.

SOURCE: Miranda Jonswold, Correspondent