PHOTOS: Sandhills AGInnovation Center Hosts Open House

Broccoli grows in the garden of the Sandhills AgInnovation Center in Ellerbe. See more photos from the open house under the story. Photos by William R. Toler – Richmond Observer

ELLERBE — The Sandhills AGInnovation Center opened to the public on Saturday with a variety of exhibits and food.

SAIC director Davon Goodwin said the open house was a good way “to engage the community, so they understand what we’re doing.”

The Richmond County office of the NC Cooperative Extension is a major SAIC partner agency, and officers were on hand cooking or manning information booths about the services offered.

Free food offered at the event included chicken on a stick and cabbage wontons, chased with sugar-free juice or lemon or cucumber infused water. And for dessert: homemade strawberry or peach ice cream.

American Legion Post 147 also sold hamburgers and hot dogs.

Jerry Etheridge, along with Isaac and Tara White, had a table laid for an exhibit of primitive hunting and living.

There were also a few tractors in the field next to the production plant with descriptions of their use.

Other booths included the Richmond County Partnership for Children and Stewart’s Pee Dee Bees.

The center opened in 2017 to help local farmers market and distribute their produce and offers technical assistance and equipment, according to Goodwin.

SAIC is also a food hub, with a box program to provide fresh produce to food-insecure communities in a nine-county region. Goodwin said SAIC releases about 300 to 400 boxes a week.

This time of year, boxes contain fall produce, such as cabbage, cabbage, sweet potatoes, apples, and turnips.

Goodwin added that the boxes may vary based on community preferences.

The garden between the production building and the greenhouse is currently planted with broccoli, with a few rows of mulberry and blueberry trees nearby.

While many food centers are funded by private philanthropy, the Richmond County Board of Commissioners has stepped up “to get it started,” Goodwin said, adding that it serves as a model for other counties.

See more photos below.

Comments are closed.