The Origins of OARDC
The idea of creating an agricultural experiment station arose out of a great need within Ohio communities. Farmers found their crop yields decreasing year after year due to the nutrient-depleted soil, and they were anxious to be told what they could do to reverse the effects.1 Everyone knew something had to be done, but farmers were not unified enough to come up with a clear solution. If there was to be a research station, would it be under the state or under a university? Where would the money come to fund it? These were questions every rural community in the United States had to start asking themselves.2
Then the United States Congress passed the Morrill Act in 1862. This provided each state with 630,000 acres of land to establish an agricultural or mechanical college.3 The revenue from the sale of those acres funded the Ohio Agricultural and Mechanical College founded in Columbus in 1870. However, this college soon declared its educational focus to be on the liberal arts over agriculture and was renamed the Ohio State University (OSU).4 To maintain an agricultural connection, OSU established the Ohio Agricultural Experiment Station in 1882 as a part of campus. By 1892, the financial and spatial resources offered to the station in Columbus were wearing thin.In response, the current Director, Charles Thorne, consider moving the Ohio Agricultural Experiment Station to a town with more land and a rich history with agriculture- Wooster, OH.5
1 Christopher Cumo and R.E. Whitmoyer. Seeds of Change: A History of the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (Wooster Book, 2000), 2.
2 Douglas R. Hurt, Indiana Magazine of History 82, no. 3 (1986), 292-93.
3 R.E. Whitmoyer, “A Brief History of OARDC,” Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center, accessed 2013.
4 Cumo, 4.
5 Sue Gorisek, "The Wizards of Wooster: Bill Krauss is recording 102 years of agricultural miracles on The Farm in Wooster", Ohio Magazine, January 1985, 71.