You could soon call it The Horse that Owns Itself.
The University of Georgia hopes to buy almost 660 acres--mostly in Greene, with a tad in south Oconee county--from the Curtis Family, where Abbott Pattison’s metal sculpture of a horse has been safely out to pasture since the mid-1950s.
The “almost” is because the university isn’t planning to buy the land on which the horse stands, said Bob Shulstad, associate dean of the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. UGA is even providing an easement to the property, he added.
The Iron Horse will continue surveying the surrounding fields in perpetuity.
The university is buying the land so that scientists have a place to do crop research, said Shulstad. They will use the property for research studies just as they did the 522-acre Plant Sciences Farm off Highway 53 in fast-growing Oconee County. The Townley Family Partnership bought the UGA farm for $11.4 million earlier this year.
Twenty-eight faculty members from the CAES and the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences will be using the new farm, Shulstad said.
The Greene County property offers UGA officials a huge advantage: it comes with more than 50 years of farming records, Shulstad said, "which is just invaluable." The agricultural data, a pond that’s an excellent water source for irrigation, the fertility of the land and its relative flatness make it a great purchase, he said.
The Board of Regents must approve the purchase before it can go forward, said J Dorsey, who handles land sales for the university. Officials want to get the item on the Regents' November agenda, but they have been delayed in doing so, he said.
"We're working through issues and answering questions," Dorsey said. "Right now we're waiting on just one more document."