University Purchases Property for New Demonstration Farm

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., May 20, 2005 — The Southeast Missouri University Foundation has purchased farm property just west of Cape Girardeau that ultimately will become the new home of the Southeast Missouri State University Demonstration Farm.

The Foundation closed on the property on Tuesday, purchasing a 252-acre farm from the Clarence Quade family. The property is located on the east side of Highway 25, just south of the intersection with Route K in Gordonville. Quade is a Gordonville resident.

Southeast purchased the property to relocate its current beef cattle operation. The University plans to also use some of the property to launch a new row crop operation. University officials are hopeful soil types at the site will allow for expansion into other agricultural areas as well.

“This is an outstanding piece of property that will allow the Department of Agriculture to not only continue its cow/calf operation but also develop a row crop program since some of the farm land is graded,” said Dr. Randy Shaw, dean of the School of Polytechnic Studies and assistant provost of Extended Learning.  “The remaining acres are rolling and ideal for grass and cattle.”

Wayne Smith, vice president for University Advancement and executive director of the Southeast Missouri University Foundation, said the Foundation had been evaluating various property options for the University’s Demonstration Farm for some time.

“We wanted the right mix of land and proximity to the University,” he said. “It was hard to find that balance.”The new site “has the mix and it has the location,” Smith added.

“It met our requirements by being close to campus and being multi-faceted,” Shaw said.

Rock Wilferth and Weldon Macke, both members of the Foundation Board’s Farm Development Committee, were instrumental in searching for new farm sites and evaluating properties, Smith said. 

Wilferth, who owns cattle and a farm himself in the area, said he had assisted the Foundation in looking at about a half dozen farms over the past two years. Generally, he said, they were too far away from the campus, making them less accessible to students and producers.

“The location of this property has wonderful access with frontage on Highway 25,” he said. “This is one of the main highways in our area.”

Wilferth says the property lends itself well to the goals of the Department of Agriculture at Southeast, both for row cropping purposes and in running a cow/calf operation. The Quade property features a variety of topography and land types, offering Southeast students the opportunity to experience different facets of agriculture found in both the northern and southern sections of southeast Missouri.

“All in all, the lay of the land is perfect,” he said. “It should be able to serve the needs of the University for many, many years to come. We are extremely excited about it.”

Macke said the Southeast Demonstration Farm “can become a showplace on Highway 25” and, based on the success at this location, perhaps the University can expand the farm in the years ahead.

“The future is whatever the Department of Agriculture wants to make it. It’s the time for dreamers to see how they can best make use of the property,” he said. “It’s a step into the future.”

Dr. Wes Mueller, chair of the Southeast Department of Agriculture, agreed.

“We think we will add opportunities we haven’t had before and expand on what we are doing, giving students hands-on learning opportunities,” he said, adding Southeast’s agriculture program served 216 majors in 2004. “We believe in offering our students real-life experiential learning opportunities that give them a taste of the many agricultural options in southeast Missouri.”

An added feature of the farm property is the graded farm land that will allow the department to launch a row crop program, in which field and crop studies can be conducted. Mueller says traditional crops like corn, soybeans and wheat likely will be produced, and the department is considering other possibilities, including vegetable production and other crops of interest to growers in the area.

Shaw says the row crop program will allow students the opportunity to work with fertilizers, herbicides and cultivation techniques. Students will learn how to increase productivity with better genetics and management techniques.

The transition to the new farm is going to take several years, Shaw said, as facilities and pastures need to be developed, fencing installed and equipment procured. The property also includes a three-bedroom brick home built in the mid-1960s, a 70-foot machine shed and shop, grain bins and storage buildings.

Clarence Quade, his son Bill Quade of Poplar Bluff, Mo., and his daughter Darlene Pruett of Florida, have been leasing the farm to M & S Aufdenberg Farms, L.L.C., whose principal owner is Steve Aufdenberg.

The Quade family is pleased the University purchased the property and plans to continue an agricultural mission on the site for many years to come.

“They were wanting to maintain it for agricultural use,” Wilferth said. “This was a real plus for them that the University wanted to continue in that direction.”

The purchase of the farm by the University Foundation lays the groundwork for Southeast to move forward with plans to develop the current 410-acre farm property north of Cape Girardeau along I-55 for other uses, said Dennis Roedemeier, chief executive officer of the Missouri Research Corporation.

Because a new I-55 interchange is being planned on or adjacent to the current farm site, the University is considering the development of the farm property for the creation of an applied research park over a period of several years, he said. The University has been in discussions with representatives from the City of Cape Girardeau, the City of Jackson, Cape Girardeau County, the Missouri Department of Transportation, and private landowners in regard to the precise location of the new interstate interchange.

While the new interchange might take only a few acres of the current University Farm property, the development would likely change the complexion of that area for future use, he said. Based on the new opportunities for use of the present farm property, the Southeast Missouri University Foundation Board and the Southeast Board of Regents have been exploring alternative locations for the future University Demonstration Farm for the past several years.