John Carroll: Agriculture in Turmoil at UNH

An update on UNH’s proposed Campus Master Plan from Professor John Carroll, via New Hampshire Farms Network:

In my 38 years as a member of the UNH College of Agriculture faculty, I have never seen a greater threat to who we are as a land-grant university, nor have I ever seen such disrespect for agriculture at UNH as the unbridled assault against agriculture which the university’s new Campus Master Plan represents.

This Spring (2012) a proposed Campus Master Plan was released which showed the loss of most of the on-campus farms, namely, all the land on both sides of Main Street from the railroad tracks/Dairy Bar all the way to the intersection with Rte. 4. This includes all the Macfarlane greenhouses, the equine lands and facilities (horse barns and pastures), all of the forage croplands on both sides of Main Street, used to support the Fairchild Dairy and Research Center, and the destruction of the growing campus- community organic garden.

After a massive outpouring of opposition from students, faculty, UNH alumni, New Hampshire farmers, and area residents at two unscheduled overflow meetings, and two additional well-attended meetings the following week, the Campus Master Plan Committee appeared to compromise on their proposal by withdrawing the idea of retail business and parking lots on the most westerly of these lands.

But the university has now proposed to remove the McFarlane Greenhouses (above left) and all of the horse facilities and pastures, converting that land to a “research park” with many buildings and parking lots. These agricultural facilities would be moved to the farther out lands which are currently being used to support both the Fairchild Dairy (right) as well as the agricultural research of professors and students – research designed to insure the future of New Hampshire farms and farmers.

The College of Agriculture is UNH’s original college and the core of its being as a land-grant university, an idea apparently forgotten by some in the UNH administration. This assault on agriculture at UNH comes at the very time that agriculture is experiencing a renaissance all over New Hampshire and New England. Never has this university farmland and associated facilities been more needed for food and agricultural teaching, research, and demonstration than it is today.

We in New Hampshire cannot afford to lose the position of agriculture at UNH if we are to have a food-secure future. Nor can we afford to turn our backs on  the spirit of our great UNH benefactor, Benjamin Thompson, whose farmlands these were, and the commitment made to him by the founders of UNH to honor and respect agriculture on these lands.

Our agriculture students, including all the newly enrolled in the new Sustainable Agriculture major, in the EcoGastronomy dual major, and in the new Thompson School agriculture program, need these lands and facilities. Our young research and teaching faculty in the College of Agriculture depend on these lands and facilities to be within close proximity for their research and their teaching, and indeed for a successful experience at UNH.

If you care about the future of New Hampshire farms and New Hampshire farmers, I urge you to contact the Secretary of the University System Board of Trustees, Tia Miller, at and ask her to make your feelings known to each of the Trustees. You might copy your correspondence to UNH President Mark Huddleston at or at his mailing address: Office of the President, UNH, Durham, NH 03824.

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  1. Matt Jasper
    Posted May 29, 2012 at 6:40 am | Permalink

    The agricultural facilities need to remain near the heart of UNH. Though I earned my BA in English, I had friends who worked in the agricultural areas. I enjoyed visiting them as a student and in later years when bringing my children to visit the campus.

    I have no idea of what exactly is possible, yet the large parking area between the dairy bar and the dairy barns could perhaps become a basement parking area below a platform for buildings and paths and parking above. I I I hope that some sort of solution that does not disrupt the practical and aesthetic value of the existing barns and farmlands can be found.

  2. Betty Hall
    Posted May 30, 2012 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

    As a former member of the NHH State House of Representatives and its Environment and Agriculture Committee I am dismayed to hear that parking is more important than teaching sustainable agriculture on these lands near the core of UNH. I implore you to rethink this part of your Master Plan. Land grant Universities are at the core of our democratic values and should have top priority,

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