Cambridge: National Institute of Agricultural Botany (NIAB) hosts groundbreaking ceremony for �1.4m Innovation Farm Visitor Centre

THE National Institute of Agricultural Botany will be hosting a groundbreaking ceremony for its new �1.4million NIAB Innovation Farm Visitor Centre in Cambridge on August 6.

Scientist and broadcaster Professor Heinz Wolff will celebrate the start of the new Centre’s construction at NIAB’s Park Farm site near Histon, with a traditional sod-cutting ceremony.

The project demonstrates to a wide range of audiences how plant resources and crop genetic improvement can help tackle the major global challenges of food security, climate change and resource conservation as well as enhancing health and nutrition. It incorporates field-based and glasshouse plant and crop demonstrations.

The new visitor centre will be the central venue for supporting exhibitions, lectures, seminars and workshops, catering for up to 70 people. The building is expected to be completed by spring 2013 and will be designed to achieve the highest sustainability rating and zero-carbon balance in operation, using locally sourced and sustainable materials wherever possible. It will include meeting and office spaces, and a show-garden that doubles as a meeting area and opportunity to display new plant varieties and species.

Funding comes from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), with additional match-funding from industry and academic partners, and places NIAB Innovation Farm’s field, glasshouse demonstrations and visitor venue in one easily accessible location. The grant includes plans to develop NIAB Innovation Farm into an interactive hub linking science and industry, highlighting developments in plant research and transferring market-ready innovations into commercial reality as rapidly as possible.

Delivered in partnership with academics, scientists and the food and farming industry, NIAB Innovation Farm is already an important demonstration and technology transfer platform for the UK farming and food supply chain, and has attracted nearly 1,500 visitors since it opened in late 2010.