BECKER -- A local non-profit took another big step toward creating an educational center for youth and adults to learn about agriculture.

Farm Friends Barn broke ground Thursday afternoon on the site of their future facility. Board Chair Jean Johnson says things have moved quickly over the past month.

There was a breakthrough with the insurance requirements and the county worked with us very well to make this happen. All the excavators and everybody were ready to do this project, I didn't realize how soon, but here we are.

Farm Friends Barn has been working towards this day since 2011. The project picked up steam when Northern Metal relocated to Becker and donated an old barn house to the organization.

The property was originally donated by Bill and Margaret Cox to Sherburne County through a land trust to be used for agricultural use. Bill and Margaret's son, Dale Cox was at the ground breaking. He says his parents would have been proud to see this achievement.

Extremely proud, and I'm proud of them as a family member. The fact they did this and can help future generations use the land and enjoy the property and see good use come of it, it's very fulfilling.

Johnson says things will move along in phases. The first phase is to get the old barn on the site later this month, then continuing fundraising efforts to build their new $200,000 building next to the barn.

I think with the move with the barn everybody is getting a little more anxious and ambitious on getting something started, so we are going to project starting the new building maybe this spring.

The facility is located along 27th Avenue Southeast in Becker, near the Sherburne History Center.

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Old Barn Site (Photo: Alex Svejkovsky, WJON)
New building site (Photo: Alex Svejkovsky, WJON)