A lot of change and growth is underway at the Trent Research Farm, now in its new location off Pioneer Road. With the Farm spotlighted in the Office of Research and Innovation’s Strategic Research Plan, an important first step in establishing the new location as a research centre has been to name its inaugural director, Dr. Karen Thompson. Professor Thompson is an associate professor in the School of the Environment and program coordinator of the Sustainable Agriculture & Food Systems program.
"This is an exciting time for the Trent Research Farm,” says Prof. Thompson. “We're laying the groundwork for Trent University to become a leader in sustainable agriculture innovation and community-focused research. With a strong governance board and a clear vision, we're cultivating the next generation of researchers, farmers, and community leaders."
Prof. Thompson intends to establish a governance structure by 2027, with a framework centered on responsible land use. The governance board will oversee the Farm's activities, including the use of space by researchers, purchase of new equipment, and overseeing staff. The board will aim to ensure that any activity has a minimal environmental impact.
New infrastructure and collaborations
While last summer saw the installation of a new system of tile drainage for water quality and soil health experiments, this summer, a new driveway was installed on the Farm to provide safe access to field plots and to the future location of an equipment storage structure. While the driveway will address immediate accessibility needs, the Farm team is putting out a request for proposals as a first step in hiring a planner to help determine where different facilities, infrastructure, and production areas would be best placed.
With the continued development of the on-campus experimental farm, Trent is positioning itself to partner with innovative agricultural companies working outside conventional farming to support sustainable transformation of our agri-food system. Already, Trent researchers are partnering with forward-thinking agricultural companies like V6 Agronomy and are collaborating with small-scale Ontario farmers to conduct on-farm research.
While many details are still under discussion, the current developments are a significant step forward. As the Trent Research Farm navigates its way through these new changes, it continues to focus on responsible land use and community involvement, setting the stage for a sustainable future.