Twilight tour of the UGA’s organic farm slated for July 19

July 10, 2012

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Athens, Ga. - Farmers, gardeners and anyone interested in knowing more about the origin of their food sources are invited to attend the inaugural Organic Twilight Tour of the University of Georgia organic research and demonstration farm July 19 from 6-8 p.m. in Watkinsville.

The Durham Horticulture Farm, located at 1221 Hog Mountain Road, will be open for tours of the organic growing operations. In addition, participants will have an opportunity to learn about some of the newest research being conducted at the farm.

"Even with the heat, production and related research projects will be in full swing," said Julia Gaskin, sustainable agricultural coordinator in the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

Researchers and students will make presentations on disease control in squash and cucumber plants, the farm's tomato variety trials, summer cover crops and their benefits, as well as tips on growing summer vegetables and sweet corn. There also will be information available about the university's certificate program in organic agriculture.

"I think that all farmers might be interested in the program, and I think the public might be interested in seeing how their vegetables and produce are grown," Gaskin said.

The organic farm is used to provide hands-on learning for students in the organic agriculture certificate program. This past spring, students worked with Robert Tate, the organic farm manager, weeding or transplanting lettuce from the back of a tractor. These experiences complemented what students learned in the classroom and gave them the basic knowledge of growing vegetables.

The farm also hosts several research projects, including one led by UGA Extension vegetable specialist George Boyhan. Boyhan is working to develop a profitable cool-season vegetable rotation for Georgia farmers. Cool-season vegetables, such as onions, broccoli and strawberries, have less pest and disease problems. The study includes rotating these vegetables with summer cover crops that can help reduce weed and nematode problems as well as supply nitrogen.

Miguel Cabrera, a professor of crop and soil sciences at UGA, and Lisa Woodruff, a UGA graduate student, are working on another project predicting nitrogen release from cover crops to benefit cash crops, such as clover. Knowing the nitrogen release rates of cover crops is critical for growers who want to minimize their off-farm input costs while maintaining good crop yields.

Admission to the Organic Twilight Tour will be free and preregistration will not be required. The event will be co-sponsored by the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences department of horticulture and the Southern Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program.

For more information about sustainable agriculture at the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, see http://caes.uga.edu/topics/sustainag/. For more information on the Organic Twilight Tour, email Gaskin at jgaskin@uga.edu.

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