Last week, I visited the University of Missouri's Southwest Center Agricultural Experiment Station. That's quite a mouthful, so I'll just call it the Center.
The Center has been around since 1959. Their mission is to perform continuing agricultural and horticultural research on an 898-acre site just south of Mount Vernon, Missouri.
For the last 46 years, they've held an annual public Field Day, and this was my first one. I had a wonderful, educational time.
Various professionals from the Center, other branches of the University, and other universities made short educational presentations and gave tours covering a variety of topics. The general areas of discussion were Beef, Dairy, Forage, Horticulture, and Grapes. Questions were welcomed.
This was a great opportunity for me. My husband and I grow and enjoy a large home garden and are starting a tiny orchard. We definitely wanted to check out the horticultural information. I also try to learn whatever I can about local agricultural production so I can do a better job of presenting local farms to buyers and for sellers.
The very good turnout included students, cattle ranchers, dairy farmers, hobby farmers, vegetable producers and home gardeners. Everyone seemed to be having a good time and learning a lot. We even got a little sunburned after the clouds cleared up.
There was definitely something for everyone. Here's just a sampling of the 20+ wide-ranging farm and garden topics that were addressed:
- Home Fruit Production
- Interseeding Legumes
- Economic Models for Pasture-based Dairies
- Show-Me-Select Heifer Program
- Use of Rootstocks in Grape Production
- Walking Tour of SW Center Horticulture Projects
- Organic Options for Small Fruit and Vegetable Production
I made it through several of the horticulture and dairy tours and sessions. There just wasn't enough time for anything else! The morning horticulture sessions were very well attended. I was very impressed both with the helpful presentations and with the crowd. At the end of each presentation, people asked good questions, others chimed in with helpful answers from their own experience, and the experts did a great job of coordinating it all, giving their own answers and clarifications.
My dairy sessions were as part of the final group, so there weren't that many people in those sessions. That was OK with me since I was just trying to soak up the basic information. I'm not sure I could have processed any additional input!
If you are anywhere near Mount Vernon, consider finding out more about the Center. You'll find them on the web at http://aes.missouri.edu/swcenter/. They offer seminars throughout the year on various topics, plus they're a great source of information. I already have a followup email in my inbox with some solar greenhouse information that I requested.
Another of my favorite Missouri garden and farm information spots on the web is the University of Missouri extension service, http://extension.missouri.edu/. Click on "Programs by Topic" on the left-hand side, and you'll find a wealth of information.
So mark your calendar for early next September. Whether you're a new or long-time Missouri gardener, a hobby farmer, or a full-time farmer, come on out and have a field day at Field Day!