Twilight tour to highlight work at UGA’s organic farm

Organic Twilight Tour 2014 Gaskin talk-h.photo
Julia Gaskin

Athens, Ga. – Organic and sustainable agriculture experts from the University of Georgia will host their fourth annual Organic Twilight Tour on Tuesday, June 23, from 6-8 p.m. at the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences’ Durham Horticulture Farm, 1221 Hog Mountain Road, Watkinsville.

Admission is free, and a rain date has been set for June 24 from 6-8 p.m.

The open house is a chance for farmers and gardeners to learn about some of the newest research being conducted on the 90-acre farm, where the college’s organic research plots are located. Researchers and students will give talks and describe demonstration plots where the latest organic cultivation practices are tested.

“The event is a wonderful way to visit with faculty and students working with organic production and to actually see their work. There isn’t a set tour, so you can come and see what you want. Even if you’ve come before, there is always something new,” said Julia Gaskin, the college’s sustainable agriculture coordinator.

Past organic twilight tours have attracted more than 100 visitors to the Durham Horticulture Farm. This year’s demonstration topics are listed below.

Small farm and irrigation equipment: Learn about different types of equipment and irrigation used on UGA’s organic production plots.
High tunnels: High tunnels can help extend the growing season and improve the quality of many crops, but they aren’t a panacea. Researchers will share their experiences with organic high tunnel production and answer questions about growing under plastic.
Nitrogen from cover crops: Cover crops have many benefits, including providing nitrogen. Learn about UGA Extension’s Nitrogen Availability Calculator (http://aesl.ces.uga.edu/mineralization/) that helps farmers know how much nitrogen is provided by different cover crops.
Watermelons: Georgia ranks third nationally in watermelon production. Researchers will discuss weed management and best practices for producing a healthy, profitable crop of organically grown watermelons.
Winter squash disease trial: Growing winter squash in Georgia can be a challenge. Researchers are testing several heirloom and new varieties to see which performs best.
Apple and muscadine management: Fruit experts from around Georgia will offer strategies for organic production from apple trees and muscadine vines.
Sunn hemp variety trial: Sunn hemp is a summer legume cover crop that can provide up to 100 pounds of nitrogen per acre. UGA researchers are studying which varieties work best for small farms.
Prepping for market: Good post-harvest handling practices extend shelf life and keep produce safe. UGA Extension specialists will offer practical strategies for keeping customers safe and satisfied.

The 2015 Organic Twilight Tour is sponsored by the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, Georgia Organics and Southern SARE (Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education).

For more information about sustainable agriculture from the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, see SustainAgGA.org. For more information about the tour, contact Gaskin at jgaskin@uga.edu or 706-542-1401 or Jessica Cudnik at sustainag@uga.edu or 706-542-8084.