Nova Scotia

Ross Farm set to open $4.5M learning centre

After 10 years of planning, fundraising and building, the $4.5-million learning centre at the Ross Farm Museum opens this weekend.

'Beautiful big barn' will be place to learn skills passed down through generations

Ross Farm's new learning centre will host workshops on traditional farming and heritage skills. The grand opening is Saturday. (Phlis McGregor/CBC)

After 10 years of planning, fundraising and building, the $4.5-million learning centre at the Ross Farm Museum opens this weekend — just in time to celebrate the 200th anniversary of New Ross.

The environmentally friendly centre uses geothermal and passive solar heating and features a living roof. The facility will host workshops on traditional farming and heritage skills. A retail store, The Pedlar's Shop, will offer the work of selected Nova Scotia artisans.

The idea to create the Ross Farm Museum at the site of the Ross family farm and homestead first came up during the 150th anniversary of New Ross in 1966.

"It's fitting that this learning centre, which is an extension of Ross Farm, would open during the 200th anniversary of New Ross," said Lisa Wolfe, the museum's director.

An inside look at the new learning centre at Ross Farm. (Phlis McGregor/CBC)

Wolfe says the architects, Jost Architects Ltd. of Annapolis Royal, used natural products in the building, just like the early settlers of New Ross would have done.

The community made it known at the start of the project that it didn't want the farm built of steel and glass.

"It fits beautifully into the landscape," Wolfe said. "We wanted the building so you wouldn't really notice it — it's bermed into the side of the hill, so it takes away from the massiveness of it. It's a beautiful big barn." 

An estimated 25,000 people visit Ross Farm every year. Wolfe says they want to learn heritage skills.

"There was a high demand for us to start a school to teach people these skills," Wolfe said.

There are classrooms, an exhibit space, a room with an open hearth and a bake oven. 

The workshops include classes on traditional farming techniques, food preservation as well as lessons on how to look after backyard chickens.

A sheep munches on hay at Ross Farm in New Ross. (Phlis McGregor/CBC)

The learning centre's  official opening begins with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 10 a.m. on Saturday.

To help celebrate, organizers are asking people who live along the routes to Ross Farm to hang up quilts on their clotheslines on Saturday morning. 

The first exhibit at the learning centre's gallery is a show of antique Nova Scotia quilts from 1800 to 1920, curated by master quiltmaker Polly Greene. 

CBC Halifax's Information Morning will be on site this morning with a special live broadcast from the learning centre.

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