Following nearly a year of planning and construction, Agricenter International is officially opening its new Agricenter Sunflower Trail on Sept. 5.
The trailway, which had previously been partially graveled, connects various parts of the Agricenter's large property including its solar farm, the pick-your-own strawberry patch and fields of cotton, corn, soybeans, and other commodities, as well as sunflower groves on both ends. More importantly, it offers better biking access to the Agricenter's Farmer’s Market for fresh fruits and vegetables.
“We’re really proud to be part of the movement for better connectivity across our region,” said Agricenter Director of Communications Christine Donhardt. “We’re eventually going to install educational signage along the trail so people can learn more about the farm, the crops and agriculture in general.”
There will be signs explaining the solar farm, bees and pollination and more.
Last year the Agricenter received a $100,000 Shelby County Commission Community Enhancement Grant to complete work on the trailway.
“We are still in the process of spending the grant funds as we add the educational signage, bollards, and crosswalks, and we will improve our trailhead and entry signage for the trail as well,” said Donhardt. “We will try to stretch the dollars are much as possible.”
Work had actually started on the trail as far back as 1986 when the Agricenter was founded. The intention over the years had been to pave it to completion, but the funding was never fully available to finish the project.
The trailway is a Greenprint Certified Project and is part of the Mid-South Regional Greenprint and Sustainability Plan, a 25-year vision (running until 2040) that maps connected communities, physical and social environments that are sustainable for future generations, and abundant access to economic, social and natural opportunities.
The path ties in with the Greenline at Shelby Farms Park to the north and the Lucious Burch State Natural Area and the Wolf River trail system to the south.
The Agricenter is the world’s largest urban agricultural research and education facility, with 600 of its 1,000-plus acres dedicated for research.