A local college has ponied up nearly $2 million to go from tenant to owner of the farm that houses its equestrian program.
Randolph-Macon College last week purchased the 100-acre Coventry Farm at 12214 Ashcake Road in Ashland.
The farm is three miles southwest of R-MC’s campus and has been home to the college’s equestrian program for the last few years.
President Robert Lindgren said the college previously was renting space at the farm and decided to make a run at buying it when it was listed for sale.
Lindgren said the total cost of the purchase was $1.8 million, including the property and Coventry Farm’s business of renting out stables and other services. The farm has more than 70 acres of pasture, an indoor riding area and stables for 33 horses.
The equestrian program is a non-varsity club sport at R-MC, though Lindgren said it’s been a powerful recruiting tool. The club was founded in 2010 and has 39 students this year.
“What we’re finding is with students who have this interest, it’s just like a sport. If a young man wants to play football, they need to go to a college or university that has a football team,” Lindgren said.
“Nearly all of the students (on the team) may not have attended Randolph-Macon if we’d not had this program.”
With an enrollment of roughly 1,400 students, R-MC is among the smaller colleges in the Richmond region, though Lindgren said its alumni have been supportive of its recent developments.
“We paid for this deal entirely through alumni donations,” he said. “We’re not using a dollar of tuition money.”
Lindgren said operations at the farm will proceed as usual, and folks will continue to be able to board their horses, receive riding lessons and host non-collegiate events. He said the school is mulling whether it will change the name of the farm.
R-MC also recently announced it is seeking to establish a bachelor’s degree of science in nursing. The program requires state approval from the Virginia Board of Nursing.
If approved, it will plan to build a new facility on campus for the program. Lindgren said if all goes according to plan, the program would start in fall 2019.