Rick Pate kicks off Agriplex capital campaign

Alabama Department of Agriculture & Industries Commissioner Rick Pate (center, in brown vest and hat) presented a check to the North Alabama Agriplex on Friday, Dec. 16, 2022. (Amy Leonard for The Cullman Tribune)

CULLMAN, Ala. – Christmas came early for the North Alabama Agriplex’s capital campaign on Friday when Alabama Department of Agriculture & Industries Commissioner Rick Pate presented a check for $100,000 to kick off the campaign. An additional check for $100,000 was received from the Alabama Mountains, Rivers & Valleys Resource Conservation & Development Council. 

“If COVID showed us anything, it showed us that food security is national security,” Pate said. “People think that food just comes from the grocery store, but places like this show them the truth about where our food comes from. Only 1-2% of the population is involved in farming now and places like the Agriplex tell the agricultural stories. We need places like the Agriplex to reinforce where their food comes from.” 

The goal of the Agriplex’s “A New Home for the Harvest” campaign is $2.2 million for the construction of a new 8,525-square-foot facility. The new footprint would allow for a community teaching kitchen, private office space, the addition of the offices of the Cullman County Cooperative Extension and continued shared programming. 

“This is a great start to our campaign,” Agriplex Executive Director Rachel Dawsey said. “We’re looking at many grant opportunities for the Agriplex to build, for the construction of our teaching kitchen and to bring the Cullman County Cooperative Extension offices in with us.” 

Pate recognized Sen. Garlan Gudger, R-Cullman, and his role in making the donation possible. 

“The Agriplex is important because not only does it have education for children of all ages throughout the whole county, but also the whole region,” Gudger shared. “Children learn about growing food and the conservation of our land to teach them where our food comes from. What happens at the Agriplex is amazing with all the diverse educational programs for both children and adults.” 

Gudger spoke to the dream of the Agriplex and those who made that dream a reality, including Dr. Bill Peinhardt and Big Doc Williamson, stating, “It was the giants who came before us. We’re standing on their shoulders now.” 

For more information on the North Alabama Agriplex, visit www.agriplex.org.  

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