UCSC has received a $5 million cornerstone pledge from Alec and Claudia Webster, representing the Helen and Will Webster Foundation, that will help restore the historic Cowell Ranch Hay Barn near the campus’s main entrance. The restored site will serve as a new home for the Center for Agroecology & Sustainable Food Systems (CASFS), Life Lab, and other south campus sustainability groups, as well as a welcoming new “front door” to the UCSC Farm and south campus area.
See the related press release for details of the Hay Barn restoration effort and this generous gift.
The Webster Foundation pledge will be awarded over several years, with the majority of the funds targeted for the Hay Barn’s reconstruction and outfitting for multiple uses, including offices, classrooms, and exhibit space.
According to Daniel Press, executive director of CASFS, the restoration effort demonstrates the campus’s commitment to its historic infrastructure and to its long history as a working landscape. “Front doors are important to people,” says Press, “This restored portion of UCSC’s entrance, with its focus on CASFS and other environmental programs, will signal to students and visitors both the campus’s respect for its past and its commitment to a sustainable future.”
The restored Hay Barn will create a focal point for CASFS student, apprenticeship and community activities and a welcoming gateway to campus and the UCSC Farm. The restored site will also make it possible for CASFS to expand its outreach and extension work with local growers, with plans for a new classroom space to accommodate groups of up to 75 for short courses and workshops.
Plans for related improvements to the site include a new produce pick up area for the UCSC Farm’s Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program and visitor parking that will improve access to the farm. A portion of the gift will support CASFS and Environmental Studies programs in the future.
In a related project, a new three-acre field is currently being brought into production and will permanently expand the UCSC Farm’s boundary to the edge of renovated Hay Barn, making the Farm easily visible to students and visitors as they enter campus. Fundraising is now underway to purchase and install the fencing, irrigation, and other infrastructure needed for this expansion of farming activities.