I think I have gotten everything to the stage I need to before I leave for 2 weeks. I have all the columns written and I think we made all the needed corrections today for the state conference. I am leaving it in good hands with Julie to take the lead. I met with the executive team early and then the entire committee all afternoon.
It is going to be an amazing conference. The Pulaski County MGs have done an amazing job putting together great tours, outstanding speakers and so many more extras. We go live with registration February 1. Make sure as MGs you know the user name and password to log in to the MG only site, which is where this will all be posted.
Read through all of the information that comes out. There is a lot to read about all the speakers, tours, and special events.
I am off tomorrow to get prepared for my trip to Vietnam. I have to pack and get everything ready here at home for family and dogs. I am excited about this adventure.
I also want to remind folks about an upcoming event in Monticello. This new MG group is bringing a popular speaker, Felder Rushing
to their county on February 4. He will speak on slow gardening and you will enjoy his talk. Registration is $20 and includes lunch. To register call 870-460-6270. You can support a local program and then go to the Pine Bluff Lawn & Garden Show later that day.
Today we had the first of our quarterly County 76 meetings. We had almost 70 in attendance and we had representatives of 23 counties! We had great participation and Linda Soffer took the reign of president and did an outstanding job. We had a productive meeting with a lot of discussion and have the road paved with great expectations. After a tasty lunch prepared by the training committee we had individual committee meetings. We inducted new members before we ended for the day.
Julie, Holly and I got everything back upstairs to our offices and put away and I actually did get some other work done before the day was over. I have one column left to do tomorrow and I think I am pretty prepared to leave. We have the final meeting of our 2017 MG conference committee tomorrow to get all our i’s dotted and t’s crossed so we will be ready to go live February 1.
We left the office a little before 5 to have a belated celebration of Julie’s birthday. Last week was hers and Aurin’s birthday so we waited until this week to celebrate. We had an excellent meal and a great visit.
We didn’t sing Happy Birthday or have a candle, but we did enjoy the night immensely.
It was an easy drive back this morning with clear skies and cooler temperatures. I made it into the office and the time flew by in what felt like seconds. I tried to finalize the PP for tomorrow’s County 76 meeting, worked on columns, the final schedule and registration forms for 2017 MG Conference (which goes live Feb 1 when I am in Vietnam!),
and much more. I thought when I set this trip to Vietnam a couple of years ago that late January was a fine time to be gone on a trip, but now I am saying “What was I thinking!” There are so many details that need to be done last-minute for the conference registration to go live, and so many events that happen in February when I return, so it is a frantic time to get things done in preparation.
Tomorrow is our first quarterly meeting of County 76 and we have 72 folks coming in from all over the state. I just completed my PP tonight at home. Then on Thursday we have the final session of our 2017 MG planning session before going live Feb.1. I hope to have everything done so I can be home on Friday to pack, and get the house and dogs ready for my departure. I have to get groceries and supplies in for the house plus everything I need for the trip. My plane leaves at 8 a.m. on Saturday so there isn’t much wiggle room.
Today I got a copy in the mail of a great regional section of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. This issue featured the White County nominee for MG of the Year and it is an amazing article. Not only is this an amazing tribute to Kaye Winningham, it sure makes the White County and MG program in general look good. Congratulations Kaye! This is an excellent way to showcase your MG of the year, or project of the year and do some great recruiting for your local program!
It was another full day in spite of being a holiday. I dd get another column written before I left town this morning. My little Petals gets so sad when she sees the suitcase come out! I was on the road early heading to Springdale for the Benton/washington county MG training. It was overcast and misty rainy when I left and visibility was poor from Lma to Fayetteville but then it all flipped and it was sunny and warm the rest of the day.
We got some great ideas about events tonight and we are off and running. After the event I met with their lawn And Garden show chair to discuss our district event over a late dinner.
I am headed to sleep soon. Tomorrow it is back to the office to prepare for County 76 on Wed.
I did get the mundane tasks like laundry done and I put another dent in the bookshelves in my home office, but I also got a few columns written and photos sent to magazines and newspapers. I also started sorting out what I am taking with me to Vietnam. I think I am taking half my medicine cabinet for those just-in-case moments. By the afternoon, it was a pretty nice day outside even though it was cloudy, so I also got some gardening in. I cleaned up some spent perennials and put up a few errant Christmas things that were still outside. I picked a bunch of winter greens–bok choy, kale, mustard, Chinese cabbage and mesclun mix for a chopped salad. I was trying to recreate one I had that came pre-chopped in a bag, and I think I exceeded it. I added some pomegranate arils, some feta and a light dressing and it was outstanding. That plus I made a loaf of homemade rustic bread and some stuffed pasta shells and it was quite a nice dinner.
I was pleased to see some good color in the garden today. The hellebores look amazing. Helleborus foetidus is putting up its green flower spikes, but they haven’t opened yet, but several others are either in full bloom or about to be, with plenty of color. These tough perennials are evergreen and bloom in a season when we need color. I did not see any bees around them, but usually there are. My sasanqua camellias got nipped by the cold but they are bouncing back. While there are plenty of spent brown blooms, there are quite a few hot pink ones on the shrubs. They started blooming for me the end of November and I still have plenty of color. More people need these in their gardens instead of just azaleas. I also saw the first bloom about to open on my Camellia japonica. They are not as cold hardy as the sasanquas, but do have showier blooms. Camellia japonicas are much larger plants at maturity than sasanquas, so can be a bit more of challenge to fit into a landscape setting. Both prefer acidic sites in morning sun with protection from the hot afternoon sun.
She was very happy I was home last night!
It was an extremely foggy day in Fayetteville with little visibility this morning and it did not improve much as the day went on. It was a good day to be indoors. This morning we had a half a day of sessions and we still had a good crowd. The most popular topic of the day was the fig trials that Susan Randolph (the 2016 MG of the Year) is leading at the Learning Fields in Ft. Smith. There is a lot of interest in figs, and she is proving that they can grow statewide. She is in beginning the 3rd year of a 10 year trial but is sharing the results as she goes. There was standing room only when she finished her talk. She was followed by MGs from Washington County who won the 2016 educational project of the year on their soil detective program for 2nd graders in Fayetteville schools and to round out our program were the 2016 MG Project of the Year winners, again from Washington County on their landscape project at the state extension office. They had prizes to pass out at the end of their session and I loved the spent seed heads from their giant alliums. I was so proud of all of the MG’s who presented today. They not only showcased what they were doing but also championed the Arkansas MG program. It was a great HIS event.
After loading up and eating a quick-lunch we were on the road south. It was foggy until we got to Alma, and then it was just cloudy with spits of rain off and on.
I also went through the mail. If you are a Farm Bureau member, you should receive their monthly magazine called the Front Porch. There is a great article on Kent Walker and his cheeses, but the highlight of the magazine was an article featuring our own John Clark. He is a world-renowned fruit breeder and an overall nice guy and the article is a must read.
I have one day at home tomorrow to try to catch up on things here, start packing for Vietnam and writing before heading back up to Fayetteville Monday for MG training. People thought I should have just stayed up there, but I have too much to do. I have a lot to get done between now and next Saturday morning when I will be at the airport at 6 a.m.!
What a day of learning this has been! I have been attending either HIS or Arkansas Horticulture Society meetings for over 35 years and the keynote address today has been one of the best ever! Anthony Flaccavento from SCALE, Inc. started off the conference with his topic Building a healthy economy and food system from the bottom up. While he spoke of so much that is being done to serve those in need, to work with local food systems and build food hubs, there were several messages that resonated strongly with me. One: we don’t need to send this message to the foodies and locavores who are already engaged but to those who are: sporadically motivated and vaguely concerned–not preaching to the choir but those who we can engage! Another key point he shared is that responsibility has not kept up with opportunity with people. Food for thought.
After the general session the group broke up into commodity sessions –everything from my public garden/MG session, to fruits, vegetables, Christmas trees, Sustainable agriculture to Farmers markets. We had good attendance in the public garden/MG sessions with a diverse amount of topics from alternative lawns, to trees, native plants, pumpkin trials, invasive plants and farm to school programs. We had a lot of great education and discussion. There were also educational booths and information ongoing all day. We had great attendance today and we finish up tomorrow with a half day of programming.