In the fruit and vegetable field, Dr. Cary Rivard, Extension Specialist & Center Director, and several graduate students in the Urban Food System M.S. specialization hosted a walk and talk to highlight the variety of research on specialty crops and sustainable high tunnel production. Student presenters were excited to relate the practical application of their projects and emphasize the potential to support the growth of the local food movement. Likewise, the research team discussed their fruit and veggie evaluations for residential use, like the OHREC’s participation in the All-America Selections Variety Trial Program, which is an independent national testing organization for flower and edible plant varieties.
The turf research program in Olathe continues to focus on growing thicker, darker and greener grass with fewer inputs, such as irrigation and fertilizing. One of the highlights of the field day was visitors experienced the recreational side of horticulture through chipping contests, a footgolf course, and a miniature soccer field. Dr. Jared Hoyle, Turf Extension Specialist, was on hand to answer any turf related questions.
The field day’s main attraction was the Extension Master Gardener program at the research center. Kristi Wyatt summarizes their successful day:
The field day could also have been called “EMG Hotline: On Location,” as over 725 visitors strolled through our gardens and queried us on a wide range of topics including: where to purchase native plants locally, how to care for fruit in the garden, and pest management. The tomatillos in the garden drew the most common question of “what is that? Our “harvest” of Japanese beetles also drew attention, as onlookers began to help, both as scouts and as exterminators, with one young visitor who was extremely happy picking beetles off of the hardy hibiscus.
In addition, to comprehensive tours and presentations by horticultural specialists, other attractions included a produce market stand featuring fresh vegetables grown at the research center, and Call Hall ice cream was offered for sale to support the Urban Food Systems graduate program. Homeowners who brought a sample from home received a free soil test by the Johnson County Extension office as well.
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