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Our final and full day of horticulture pre-tour and garden set-up

July 23, 2016

What promised to be an extremely long day, got shortened by a bunch of helpful people.

Randy and I started the day by meeting the bus and leaving at 7:30 a.m. for Clarksville and the Fruit Research Station.  Meanwhile,  Julie and Mary were at the convention center at 7 putting down tarps and meeting River Valley with our delivery of plants and mulch.  The original plan was that Mary had to leave for a meeting and Julie would help set up extension booth and then we would all meet back up at 6 or 6:30 p.m. to put together the garden. But the plants were delivered early and a group of county agents jumped in to help Mary and Julie, and they were able to place all the big plants with the fork lift and get the bones of the garden laid out!  Great help.

Meanwhile, Randy and I started our tour with a discussion inside in air conditioning about how the center started and what their research emphasis was. clarksville nacaa (2)Dan Chapman and his staff bent over backwards to welcome our group with loads of fresh peaches to sample, along with an excellent demonstration on how they harvest stamens and pollen and hand-pollinate the crosses of blackberries that they wantclarksville nacaa (3) clarksville nacaa (6).  We then had a driving tour of the farm where we learned about their breeding efforts in peaches, blueberries, blackberries and grapes.  We also saw how they plant and evaluate the trials. I think folks were amazed that it takes up to 30 years of research for a new variety to make it into the market. clarksville nacaa (11) clarksville nacaa (12) clarksville nacaa (14) clarksville nacaa (15) clarksville nacaa (19) clarksville nacaa (20) After a hot and sweaty hour tour, we were treated to an excellent barbecue lunch along with more peaches and ice cream.  clarksville nacaa (24) peaches clarksville nacaa (25) peaches clarksville nacaa (26) Many dozed nacaa bus tour.julyon the drive back into Pulaski County to head to North Pulaski Farm, an organic farm who grows produce for the farmers markets, CSA’s and local restaurants. north pulaski farm (1) north pulaski farm (2) north pulaski farm (3)

and then it was on to the last leg of our tour, Bemis Tree Farm. bemis farm nacaa (14)  Over the years, this family operation has grown from just a tree farm, to a stump grinding operation and now they are big into bee keeping.  They not only have 75 hives and raise bees bemis farm nacaa (7)and produce honey and honey products, but they have a lovely store with loads of bee related items along with beekeeping equipment and supplies.  bemis farm nacaa (2) bemis farm nacaa (6) bemis farm nacaa (8) We had a short powerpoint presentation from Jeremy on the family farm and what they doing and then we divided into two groups. One took a short driving tour of the farm, while the others watched a honey harvest, then we swapped. bemis farm nacaa (13) bemis farm nacaa (11) bemis farm nacaa (12) In addition to the farming operations, they also are starting a petting zoo for families to enjoy–and we did too. bemis farm nacaa (15)  Several tried their hand at extracting the honey bemis farm nacaa (20) bemis farm nacaa (23) and we all sampled the end-product in the raw and as a nice appetizer with brie and fresh blackberries. bemis farm nacaa (17)

The heat did take its toll on many, and a few opted not to join us today, while others decided they are more of a wimp than they thought.  Idaho had a hard time and looked for cool spots to hang out.bemis farm nacaa (22) Just as our tour was ending, the skies turned dark, the wind started to blow and we had a torrential downpour. bemis farm nacaa (28) It delayed us about 30 minutes while we waited for it to pass.  Some just had to experience it. bemis farm nacaa (1)

It was a great way to showcase our state and meet a lot of great extension folks.

When we returned we went to the convention center to set up our garden.  Luckily for us, much of the hard work was done and we only had small finishing plants to put in, lay down the liner in the baby pools to look like a river, and add plants and accents and add water.  We had planned to work until 11 or 12, but were done by a little after 9.  We had great help and it really turned out nicely. nacaa garden july16 (2) nacaa garden july16 (9)nacaa garden july16 (1) nacaa garden july16 (7) nacaa garden july16 (8)

To add some levity to the evening, we had Randy to help.  Ask him about the ice chest! nacaa garden july16 (5) I can’t stop laughing!

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