How We Got Here
Some folks say that as far back as 1984, discussions were taking place on the Auburn campus about how to preserve the area that is now Ag Heritage Park. In 1991, the late Bill Johnson of Albertville, Alabama, donated to the College of Agriculture an extensive collection of antique farm and hand tools. In July 1992, then Dean James E. Marion appointed the Johnson Farm Tools committee to investigate opportunities for exhibiting the collection. (Note: Some of these items are currently on display in the Red Barn. See that page for pictures.) A proposal was submitted to the AU Administration for the establishment of an agricultural museum on the Auburn Campus; however, while the concept was supported by administrators, the State Legislature had already designated Landmark Park in Dothan as the State Agricultural Museum. Although interest was strong, a period of dormancy followed.
Ag Alumni Association Involvement
The AU Agricultural Alumni Association took up the cause and, in February 1998, adopted a resolution endorsing the proposal to establish the Auburn University Agricultural Heritage Park as part of the College of Agriculture. The Association committed to provide leadership in developing plans, securing funds, construction and operation of the Agricultural Heritage Park. Funding for the project was to be totally from private dollars and in-kind gifts.
Concept Approval by AU Administration
The concept of Ag Heritage Park was presented to the AU Board of Trustees for information and feedback in April 1999 as:
…an interesting concept that should add to the stature of the University as a Land-Grant institution….This project offers a unique opportunity to dramatically increase the visibility of the agricultural heritage of this portion of the campus while enhancing the teaching, research and outreach initiatives of the College of Agriculture.
In April 2001, the Auburn University Board of Trustees approved a phased implementation and funding plan for the AU Agricultural Heritage Park. With the first financial backing commitments of $1 million in place, groundbreaking was held in July 2001.
Robert Hensarling joined the staff of the College of Agriculture in September 2002 as Director of Ag Heritage Park. The addition of this position has been critical to moving the project forward.
The concept for developing the lawn area in front of the Dairy Barn came from an event planning standpoint. The existing landscape was a deep bowl shape and did not allow for safe and sufficient movement around the area. There was a strong desire for an open, multi-use area that would support a variety of different events while still providing an inviting green space.
About this time, the AU Athletic Department was beginning several turf renovation projects as well as beginning construction on the new track field. An arrangement was made with Athletics that proved to be very beneficial for Ag Heritage Park. As subsoil was excavated from the new track area, it was relocated to fill the front lawn area. Additionally, approximately 2,000 cubic yards of subsoil was moved on site to be used in later landscaping during construction at the Park.
As work proceed toward replacing the turf at Jordan-Hare Stadium, an arrangement was made with the contractor, Sports Turf, to provide a work area at the Park for subsoil development. In return, Sports Turf cut, rolled and delivered sod off Plainsman Park for installation in the lawn area. These agreements provided an inexpensive, instant lawn that allowed events to be scheduled in the area within two months.
The first event to be held on-site was the 2002 Ag Roundup. Relocated from its former site of a parking lot on Ag Hill, Roundup continues to thrive at Ag Heritage Park, drawing over 1500 visitors on Auburn’s Homecoming Saturday morning.
Beginning in 2005, a weekly summer farmers market has been held on the lawn each Thursday. Several spring and fall markets have been held as well. This has become a terrific outlet for area growers to make their wares available to the public while providing additional exposure for Ag Heritage Park.
Through diligent work and attention provided by the staff at Facilities & Resource Management, an annual turf maintenance program has been established to maintain and improve this site.
As exposure has increased, overall interest in the vision for the Park has increased. Click on the buttons at the side for details on the progress and plans for each component.