The Horticulture and Agroforestry Research Center (HARC), located at New Franklin, Mo., is the primary research site for the Center for Agroforestry at the University of Missouri. This 665-acre farm includes numerous experimental fruit (peach, pawpaw, elderberry) and nut orchards (chestnut, black walnut, northern pecan, ‘Bucks Unlimited’TM oak); forest farming, riparian buffers, silvopasture, alley cropping, and windbreak demonstrations as well as forage shade trials; flood tolerance trials; biofuel trials; pinestraw production trials; greenhouses; five lakes and ponds and one of Missouri’s oldest brick homes, the 1819 Thomas Hickman House on the National Register of Historic Homes. The farm is set in the beautiful, rolling Missouri River hills. Tours and educational events, including the annual Missouri Chestnut Roast, are hosted regularly.
HARC is one of the University of Missouri’s outstanding Agricultural Research Centers, a network of sites across the state hosting state-of-the-art programs that bring Missouri agricultural land and forest owners’ new information for reaching maximum income potential and environmental benefits on a variety of land types and ecoregions.
Interdisciplinary collaboration at HARC allows researchers from multiple disciplines (e.g., f agroforestry forestry, soils, horticulture, ecology, entomology, plant pathology, agronomy, forage and animal science, human dimensions, marketing, economics, geography, water quality and wildlife) to combine knowledge and research efforts to address a more diverse array of topics. MU’s Center for Agroforestry supports the agroforestry research and demonstration program at HARC to further its mission to initiate and coordinate agroforestry activities within the state of Missouri and enhance the development of agroforestry within North America and the temperate zone, world wide. See a list of HARC’s faculty and staff.
Through an interdisciplinary approach, UMCA leads the nation in key research areas conducted at the HARC farm:
- Extensive bioremediation, non-point source pollution and shade and flood tolerance studies.
- An innovative, outdoor 24-channel flood tolerance research laboratory
- Projects for producing medicinals and gourmet, high-value mushrooms, including shiitake under forest shade
- Groundbreaking genetic improvement, management/production, market/economic research studies on the development of Chinese chestnut, eastern black walnut, northern pecan, elderberry and pawpaw into profitable orchard crops
The Horticulture Research Center opened in 1953 with a focus on horticultural research. In 1993, the agroforestry research program was introduced to the 540-acre farm. The Horticulture Research Center became the Horticulture and Agroforestry Research Center in 1995. A 2001 land purchase of 125 acres to the west of the existing property expanded the total acreage to nearly 665 acres.
Long before the first experimental tree plantings, the land which is now the HARC farm played a key historical role for Missouri and the Midwest. Lewis and Clark passed through the area in 1804, finding a trading post had already been established in present-day Howard County. Just two miles south of the farm is the site of the original town of Franklin, Mo., which was established in 1816 and grew to a population second only to St. Louis by 1820. As the starting point for William Becknell’s party and the legendary Santa Fe Trail, Franklin became a major point of commerce and trade for the Westward Expansion movement.
One of the Midwest’s most outstanding examples of early architecture remains today on the farm, the historic 1819 Thomas Hickman House. The 1800-square foot home is an outstanding example of the Georgian Cottage – an architectural design once popular across the Midwest as settlers migrated from the southern regions – and is one of the oldest brick homes in the state. Recognizing the homestead’s unique architectural, cultural and agricultural significance, the University began a restoration project in 1996 with the excavation of the home’s summer kitchen site. With both federal and state funding, the Thomas Hickman has been fully restored to its historic condition holding permanent educational displays of local archaeological, geological and historical interest. Learn more about this project.
Land and Soils – The Missouri River Hills region
Visitors to the research farm often comment on the beautiful, rolling hills and exceptional views. The farm is positioned amidst the Missouri River Hills at one of the highest elevations in Howard County, creating a diversity of establishment sites for researching plant and tree combinations.
The current acreage sits on seven recognized soil associations. The most common soil type – rich, fertile, well-drained, windblown silt-loam known as loess — covers the bulk of the property and is over 30 feet deep at its center.