Extension hosts first Garden Expo

The Northwest Alabama RC&D Council sits at a table at the first Garden Expo. Shown above are Executive Director Lauranne James, Anna Morrison and Vanessa King.

HAMILTON — The Marion County Extension Office partnered with Northwest Alabama RC&D to host a garden expo as part of an outreach through NRCS/USDA on Tuesday, Oct. 10, at Bevill State Community College in Hamilton.  Carla Lewis, Marion County Extension coordinator;  Lauranne James, Northwest RC&D Council, executive director;  and Tomeesa Shedd, NRCS conservation technician welcomed the attendees to the Garden Expo.
Attendees had the option to choose which sessions they wanted to attend.  Bethany O’Rear, ACES REA commercial horticulture, home grounds, home gardens and pest spoke about raised bed gardens and irrigation while Bronson Lubresky, ACES UREA forestry, natural resources, home grounds, gardens and home pest presented about rain barrels and composting.  Jayne Luetzow, ACES REA home grounds, gardens and home pest spoke on seeds to plants, while Donna Shanklin, ACES Lawrence County CEC, engaged her group for a talk on pollinators and pests. The sessions wrapped up with a presentation on landscape design by Brian Brown, ACES REA.  
Extension sends their thanks to Foodland in Winfield, First National Bank in Hamilton and CIS for the “Healthy Grab and Go” snacks for attendees.  SNAP-Ed Educator Josh Berryhill set up a “Sugar Shocker” display and Extension had a table with garden information for attendees to take home.  Rebecca Danley and youth council members set up an informative display on 4-H and were very helpful with the Garden Expo. Other vendors were First National Bank, S&H Building Supply, G.C. Boutique, ACES Horticulture REA’s and Master Gardeners, PaperPie, Northwest RC&D Council, Tri County Beekeepers, Susan Hill (ACES Food Safety and Quality REA) and CIS.  The vendors donated items for door prizes.  Forty plus door prizes were drawn for, ranging from home and garden tools to books and apparel.  
There were youth and adult “garden” related contests.  4-H photography exhibit winners received ribbons for each place and a phone photography lens.
In the junior division:  first place was  Brynlee Whisnant, Hamilton Elementary School;  second place:  Laura Leigh Franks, Guin Elementary School.
Intermediate division:  first place:  Miley Lopez, Guin Elementary School.
Senior Division:  first place, Jaxson Lopez, Marion County High School.
In the adult categories, prizes were sponsored by Northwest Alabama RC&D.  
First place in photography was Joyce Fowler.  First place in arts and crafts was Sherry Smith.  First place in harvest table centerpiece was Joyce Fowler.
“The Garden Expo was something for all ages and all levels of gardeners,” SNAP-Ed REA Ginger Eatman stated. “We have multiple goals in garden education. With school gardens, our goal is to teach children how to raise their own food from seed to plant to harvest and be self-sustaining. We want to provide our communities with the opportunity to learn about growing their own food and sustainability, as well. For those who are able in our community, we want to encourage them to grow more and give more to those who may not be able to have readily available fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as to donate to local food pantries and distributions.

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