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Major donation to help create new sustainability center in Harrisburg

A rendering of HU’s proposed Center for Advanced Agriculture and Sustainability

A proposed sustainable agriculture center in downtown Harrisburg took a big step forward on Monday, as Harrisburg University announced a significant donation to the project.

Carlisle-based The GIANT Company will donate $1 million to HU’s Center for Advanced Agriculture and Sustainability, a planned 23,000-square-foot building that, according to GIANT, may break ground later this year.

The announcement was made at the 2022 PA Farm Show.

“The GIANT Company’s transformative gift will enable Harrisburg University students and faculty to become a national leader in developing advanced agriculture and sustainability solutions,” said Dr. Eric Darr, HU president. “We are thrilled to partner with The GIANT Company to identify challenges and implement efficient, sustainable, and action-oriented solutions for our agricultural community.”

The educational and research center will focus on sustainability, controlled environment agriculture and clean water initiatives, according to HU. It will feature applied research programs and new agricultural technologies.

HU stated that the facility will be sited in downtown Harrisburg, though an exact location has yet to be announced.

“Doing the right thing for our planet is a huge responsibility and also a huge opportunity,” said GIANT Company President Nicholas Bertram. “A more sustainable shopping basket helps reduce carbon emission, improve soil health, mitigate deforestation and increase biodiversity, which in turn will heal our planet. We can’t do it alone, which is why The GIANT Company is proud to partner with experts like the faculty and students at Harrisburg University to support a sustainable food future.”

Russell Redding, PA’s Secretary of Agriculture, was on hand for the announcement at the Farm Show Complex.

“Agriculture finds itself at the intersection of the most important issues of our time—food security, health and human development, environmental stewardship, commerce, and importantly, the quality of life in our communities,” Redding said. “The GIANT Company’s commitment to Harrisburg University’s Center for Advanced Agriculture and Sustainability is strengthening our agriculture and food system, and in return, benefitting both Pennsylvania farmers and consumers.”

The new center is the latest expansion of HU in downtown Harrisburg. The university, based on Market Street, is currently constructing an 11-story health sciences building at S. 3rd and Chestnut streets, which is scheduled for completion in 2023.

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