Munnell Farm looking to grow local agricultural education

Apr. 17—COOLSPRING TOWNSHIP — Mercer County is looking to grow agricultural education.

"Mercer County is the only county in the state that doesn't have agricultural curriculum in its schools or career center," Mercer County Commissioner Tim McGonigle said. "We want to see our children exposed to agriculture and the environment."

The county is trying to secure a state grant for at least $1.5 million to renovate a building at Munnell Run Farm in Coolspring Township, he said. The county has owned the 163-acre farm for over 100 years. It is operated by the Mercer County Conservation District, with Jay Russell serving as its manager.

"We hold educational and workshops for those involved with agriculture, like pasture management," Russell said.

Another event featured a workshop for how to manage streams on private property.

A group of local third-graders is expected to participate in a tour of the farm and learn about agriculture, he added.

Mercer County is among the top 25 of the state's 67 counties for agricultural production, Russell said.

Buildings at the farm are used for a variety of purposes, such as a fish hatchery that is overseen by the local chapter of Trout Unlimited, a non-profit organization. The groups raises the fish for the state Fish and Boat Commission, which releases them in rivers and streams.

"A few of them go to Lake Julia at Buhl Park," Russell said.

Water for the hatchery is pumped from aquifers on the farm.

"People tell us we have the best water for a hatchery," McGonigle said.

On this day, the Mercer County Spinners and Weavers Guild was holding their meeting at one farm building to create baskets. The group formed in 1971.

"We're amateurs," Bonnie Massing, the group's secretary said with a laugh. "Hopefully we all go home with a basket."