Politics & Government

Fayette's new teaching farm praised during grand opening

James Comer, state agriculture commissioner, speaks about the importance of agriculture in Kentucky during the grand opening of Locust Trace AgriScience Farm in Lexington, Ky., April 23, 2012. Photo by Matt Goins 13888
James Comer, state agriculture commissioner, speaks about the importance of agriculture in Kentucky during the grand opening of Locust Trace AgriScience Farm in Lexington, Ky., April 23, 2012. Photo by Matt Goins 13888 ©2012 Herald-Leader

Officials touted Lexington's new $18 million Locust Trace AgriScience Farm as a unique learning place for agriculture students as the school held its grand opening on Monday.

Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner James Comer called Locust Trace "one of a kind in the United States," where students can study a wide variety of careers in agriculture.

"This is a facility that I think we'll see a great return from for many years to come," Comer said.

About 200 students attend Locust Trace, which began operations last fall, studying a little of everything including veterinary science, biotechnology and tractor driving.

Comer said agriculture continues to be a $5 billion industry in Kentucky, bigger than the state's auto industry.

Locust Trace, on Leestown Road, began as a modest idea for a small barn to house some agriculture classes at the Fayette Public Schools' Eastside Technical Center.

The plan blossomed into a full-fledged farm, however, when the school system received 82 acres of surplus federal land on Leestown Road. Now Locust Trace boasts a classroom-administration building, a veterinary clinic, an arena for cattle shows and similar events, pastures, and a high-tech "green" system that includes the country's third largest solar-electric array.

Fayette County School Board chairman John Price said the agriscience farm has roughly tripled the number of students in the county system who can study agriculture.

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