Massive masher to draw attention to Food + Farm Exploration Center in Central Wisconsin
Plover-WI – What's 39-feet tall and serves as a whimsical nod to central Wisconsin's key role supplying potatoes and other vegetables to the U.S.?
The world's largest potato masher, incidentally the world's largest, was installed last week in front of the nearly completed Food + Farm Exploration Center near Plover, Wis. The towering utinsel is sure to attract attention and welcome visitors to the $41 million educational center.
According to Andy Reitz, Executive Director of Farming for The Future Foundation and the Food + Farm Exploration Center, the iconic symbol represents the fun exploration waiting inside and outside the new Center, honoring the agriculture industry, growers, innovators, and consumers. The Farming for the Future Foundation, established in 2018, broke ground in April 2022 for the center, which will stand on 24 acres of land south of Lake Pacawa, between Hoover Avenue and I-39.
Officials say Plover is a perfect home for the Center because of the rich history Central Wisconsin has in the potato and vegetable industry. According to WIsconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP), Wisconsin is one of the top states in the production of the major processing vegetables. Last year, state growers produced 6.26 million cwt. of snap beans, 1.60 million cwt. of carrots, and 1.09 million cwt. of green peas. Currently the state state ranks third in the nation in potato production, harvesting potatoes on 66,500 acres in 2022.
The mission of the 50,000 sq. ft. Exploration Center is to reconnect people to agriculture and their food. It will be a place for people to come together on a journey into the world of modern agriculture, to meet the people behind the food, to build new science and engineering skills, to connect, play and learn. It will be a teaching farm, a children’s museum, a science center and a community workshop all rolled into a tantalizing celebration of food and farming.
“We are working to bridge that divide, bringing people back to the table to have conversations about where their food comes from. Fostering a greater understanding of production agriculture is essential if we are to proactively address the challenges of feeding a growing world with fewer resources,” said former director Candise Miller told reporters at the 2022 groundbreaking event.
Through the Cultivating Connections Campaign, $28 million dollars has been raised through donations by individuals and corporate partners who are dedicated to the vitality of Wisconsin’s agricultural industry. The total fundraising goal for the project is $41 million.
The event included a short ceremony with speakers Reitz, Executive Director of Farming for The Future Foundation and the Food + Farm Exploration Center; Steve Kunst, Village of Plover; Alicia Pavelski, Founding Member & Board President of Farming for the Future Foundation; Jim Yehle, President & CEO, Findorff; and Les Dobbe, President and CEO of Lineage Logistics in Stevens Point and co-chair of the Cultivating Connections Capital Campaign.
The project was led by construction manager, J.H. Findorff & Son; architect, Eppstein Uhen Architects; and exhibit designer, Gyroscope, and is expected to be open to the public by fall 2023.