The Co-op Community Spaces program is putting $125,000 towards an educational centre at Brookdale that will serve as a site for both on-farm research and a place to learn about the role of agriculture in rural and urban communities.
Manitoba Beef and Forage Initiatives (MBFI)’s Learning Centre of Excellence will be located at the research farm site near Brandon. Its construction will get started this summer and an opening date is now eyed for fall.
These funds are a great help towards achieving this long-term goal of MBFI, of a facility for both producers and the general public, said Ramona Blyth, MBFI chair.
“MBFI’s learning centre will become the hub in Manitoba first of all for producers so they can take forage and beef research and adapt it to what will work in their operation,” she said. “It will also engage the urban population to learn where their food is coming from.”
It’s expected to be widely used by university students, 4-H programs and Agriculture in the Classroom, she added.
The site will include a meeting room with capacity for between 50 to 75 and will be fitted with audiovisual equipment to connect to off-site speakers.
A final cost hasn’t yet been tallied, added Glenn Friesen, industry development specialist with Manitoba Agriculture and MBFI committee member.
“We’ve just been moving towards gathering the funds to put it together,” he said. “Certainly the support from the (Co-op) Community Spaces program puts us in a really good spot.”
The learning centre is one of 27 projects supported this year through Co-op Community Spaces which has allocated $2 million in total towards supporting various projects including non-profits, charities and community service co-operatives.
Since launching in 2015, Co-op Community Spaces has provided $4.5 million to more than 60 projects across British Columbia, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta.
The centre was a great fit for the co-op program which aims to help organizations of all kinds improve the places they live, said Lorne Zacharias, general manager with Heritage Co-op.
“Heritage Co-op is supported and owned by members and customers throughout southwest Manitoba, so it’s important that we give back and make investments in our community and people, which is what Co-op Community Spaces is all about,” he said.
“Being able to work together with community groups across Western Canada is very foundational for us.”