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A publication of Appalachian Voices

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Growing Community Agriculture

Story by Maureen Halsema

Mills Springs School is under transformation, soon to be Polk County’s Agricultural Development Center. Photo by Kyle Wolff

Mills Springs School is under transformation, soon to be Polk County’s Agricultural Development Center. Photo by Kyle Wolff

A community vision, a team of volunteers and generous donations will transform a 90-year-old school into the new Agricultural Development Center for Polk County, N.C.

Mill Springs School is a 40,000 square foot building that rests on six acres of pristine, viable farmland, and is the future site of the County Agricultural Economic Development Office’s demonstration gardens for the community.

“We are truly appreciative to receive such community-spirited support and sense of personal ownership in the vision and mission of this unprecedented project,” said Lynn Sprague, Polk County Agricultural Economic Development Director.

The former school will be a resource for agricultural development, with tours, demonstrations and courses on farmland preservation and cultivation. The first ever Polk County Agri tour is scheduled for June 26.

The school’s fully equipped commercial kitchen will be used for cooking demonstrations in cooperation with the county’s healthy living programs. The facility will also be open to local entrepreneurs to create value-added products using locally grown foods.

The Agricultural Development Center will accommodate several businesses and organizations, including the Soil and Water Conservation District and the Forest Conservation District. Some offices will be open Sept. 1, as renovations of the school continue.

On the last Saturday of each month, the center will supplement the farmers markets with a flea market.

“Our monthly school-yard swap meet is just another attempt by the Polk County Agricultural Development Center at creating anchor programs for folks to stimulate their economic growth and sustainability,” Sprague said.

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