Skip to main content




The Hastings Agricultural Extension Center (HAEC) is a UF/IFAS demonstration and research unit. Tracing its history back to creation in 1923 of the Potato Investigations Laboratory, a branch of the Florida Agricultural Experiment Stations, in 2004 a coalition of local farmers, business leaders and politicians had a vision of a facility to address growth and sustainability issues affecting a rapidly growing northeast Florida.

HAEC serves several audiences and performs multiple functions. There are “living” displays that educate Extension clientele on alternative practices such as Florida-friendly landscaping principals, alternative crop production systems and sustainable commercial agricultural practices focused on conservation of our valuable and irreplaceable natural resources. Research projects conducted at HAEC focus on practices to ensure there is a sustainable agricultural industry and environment within the region.

To Learn More Continue Reading on Sustainable Solutions


Mailing Address: 
Hastings Agricultural Extension Center
595 E. St. Johns Ave.
P.O. Box 728
Hastings, FL 32145-0728

View Directory


(904) 692-4944

(904) 692-4673


Hastings Downtown Facility
The Hastings Downtown Facility consists of approximately 64 acres of land located in the town of Hastings in St. Johns County. This Facility includes approximately 15 acres for crop production research as well as 38 acres of wetland that borders Deep Creek. In 1987, the crop production area was converted to a citrus nursery for offsite faculty to conduct citrus canker and freeze production research. The “heavier” soils found at the Hastings Facility are inappropriate for potato production but are acceptable for small fruit crops, sod, cole crop production, greenhouse vegetable production, and for landscape demonstrations.

The infrastructure at the Hastings Downtown Facility includes the main office building for workshop, two greenhouses for hydroponic vegetable production, one enclosed barn, and two covered storage areas.

The downtown unit is partitioned into production areas for alternative crop demonstration plantings. These alternative crops include a stone fruit orchard, muscadine grape vineyard, bunch grape vineyard, and two “backyard gardens” demonstrating edible landscaping techniques and practices, as well as a “Florida Yards and Neighborhoods” demonstration landscape. All of these features are designed to demonstrate alternative crops and their production systems or alternative landscape approaches such as the Florida Yards and Neighborhoods program and the edible landscape concept.

Muscodine Grapes at Downtown site

Local And State Partnerships

The HAEC partnership involves partners from local to state levels, including the St. John’s Water Management District, Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Department of Agriculture and Consumer services, local farmers, and city and county governments in Flagler, Putnam, and St. John’s counties.

Other partners include the University’s Florida Yards & Neighborhoods program, Program for Resource Efficient Communities and Soil and Water Sciences, Agricultural and Biological Engineering, Horticultural Sciences, Entomology and Nematology, Plant Pathology, and Agronomy departments. For more information about the University of Florida’s efforts in sustainability, visit For more information about how you can live more sustainably, visit

Corn at Cownpen Branch

Research: Commercial Vegetable Production

Cowpen Branch Research Center

The Cowpen Branch Demonstration and Research Facility consist of approximately 50 acres of land located off Cowpen Branch Road near Hastings in St. Johns County. This Facility has been operated by IFAS since the late 1950s and has a long track record of excellent potato production. Currently, 36 acres are used for crop production research.

This farm is used for crop production, cultivar, post-management, and water management demonstrations and research. Infrastructure at the site currently includes a covered barn/workshop that houses the potato washing and grading equipment, a pesticide mix/load facility, a pole barn for equipment storage, a small concrete block vegetable field lab, convex type containers for storage, and an office building.

Currently, work at the Cowpen Branch farm is centered on commercial vegetable production and ways to improve water use, water quality, crop yield, and crop quality. This allows our producers to be more sustainable from an economic perspective as well as an environmental perspective. Crops at the farm include potatoes, cabbage, broccoli, and a variety of other vegetables.