August 31, 2011
Piedmont Technical College is continuing to expand its unique diversified agriculture program in Saluda with the addition of a new facility. The program has erected a barn on-site for storage and hopefully in the near future, livestock.
Beginning in the fall of 2011, the college began offering an associate degree in diversified agriculture, the only degree of its kind in the state. The program offers courses such as animal science, basic farm maintenance, field crop production, agriculture economics and agriculture marketing.
“So much of a program like this is what people see when they come here,” said Hugh Bland, agriculture instructor. “When you ride to our campus, it looks like agriculture. It looks like we care about it and it’s important to us. That’s what we want the students to see.”
Bland said that agreements have been signed with Derrick Equipment allowing students the opportunity to learn from and use several pieces of farm equipment at the Saluda campus. The new facility will help teach care and maintenance of this equipment.
“When you buy this kind of high tech equipment, you need to take care of it,” said Bland. “The students in this program learn the importance of maintaining the equipment so that it will last, something most farms depend on.”
The new facility will also help the program with assisting the local Future Farmers of America (FFA) chapters by providing a location for hosting regional and state competitions.
Students have been invited by the local farms to come experience working farms. While these visits are beneficial to the students, the timing may not always work out for the classes or the farm owners. The addition of livestock on campus would help the situation.
“We want to use this as a learning experience where the students can go out and buy cattle, feed them off a little, work with them and then sell them and hopefully make a profit,” Bland said. “We want them to have the hands-on training.”
Bland said the program doesn’t want to be limited to just livestock, though. Horses, goats and other animals could potentially be brought in as the community shows a need for training in those areas.
Photo Caption: Piedmont Technical College is continuing to expand its unique diversified agriculture program in Saluda with the addition of a new barn on-site for equipment storage and hopefully in the near future, livestock.