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July 30, 2013

Farmstead near Lawrence donated for research on earth-friendly farming

The former CEO of Westar Energy and his wife have given the 65-acre property to The Land Institute of Salina, which will work with KU and K-State on the project.

The former CEO of Westar Energy and his wife have donated a 65-acre farmstead northwest of Lawrence to The Land Institute of Salina, which will use the property to more closely collaborate with two Kansas universities on its research on sustainable agriculture.

The donation from Jim and Cindy Haines includes 50 acres of farmland, a home built in the 1880s, which is listed on the Register of Historic Kansas Places as the Gorrill Farmstead, and a granary that has been converted to meeting space.

The property’s appraised value is $1.2 million.

“This is big for us,” said Wes Jackson, president of The Land Institute. “This opens up so many options that we currently don’t have out there in Salina.”

Earlier this year, The Land Institute launched an effort with the University of Kansas, Kansas State University and the Konza Prairie to further its research toward promoting a sustainable agriculture system that reduces environmental damage.

Jim Haines, who retired as Westar CEO in 2007, has been an adviser to The Land Institute’s Climate and Energy Initiative. He and his wife have contributed to The Land Institute for several years, Jackson said.

“We think that’s a noble cause, and we’d like to be a part of it if we can be,” Haines said.

Tim Crews, director of research at The Land Institute, said having land near Lawrence will make it easier for scientists and students to become part of the research. The property also will be available to Kansas State University students, he said.

“There’s just tremendous expertise at both of those institutions,” Crews said. “We believe they will strongly advance our work.”

Land Institute Vice President Josh Svaty will be moving into the home with his family, but The Land Institute has no plans to move its headquarters from Salina, Jackson said.

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