CULLMAN, Ala. – A packed charter bus provided by Wallace State Community College left Cullman Tuesday morning to embark on the 2019 Farm-City Tour that stopped at three fun destinations. Hosted by the Cullman County Cooperative Extension Office and Cullman Farm-City, the tour stopped at Belle Chevre in Elkmont, HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology in Huntsville and the Tennessee Valley Research and Extension Center of Auburn University in Belle Mina.
At Belle Chevre (beautiful goat), guests were treated to delicious samples of goat’s milk cheeses. Founded in 1989 in the charming town of Elkmont, Belle Chevre has won numerous international awards for its cheeses including their flavored cream cheeses. Guests toured the facility and even had an opportunity to meet four of the company’s friendly goats.
Besides goat cheese, Belle Chevre offers a variety of soaps, lotions and other goat’s milk products.
The next stop was in nearby Huntsville at the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology. The group was given a behind-the-scenes look at the fascinating genomic research taking place for both plants and humans.
HudsonAlpha combines the nonprofit side of scientific research with the business side that takes the results of the research and develops it into a marketable benefit to the public. One such discovery happened when trying to create a dark purple petunia. Scientists discovered RNA interference that block the messaging of the purple color resulting in a white petunia. Researchers were able to use that knowledge to create a drug, now in the trial stage, that would use RNA interference to fight ovarian cancer.
Researchers are also looking into using hybridization to help bring back the American chestnut that was once devastated by blight by using the European chestnut that is blight-resistant.
The group then took a short hop over to Belle Mina to visit the Tennessee Valley Research and Extension Center of Auburn University. The research station is one of the original five extension centers established by Auburn and has been carrying out experiments and research since 1929.
After a lunch from Apple Lane Farms, the group took the bus around the research station to learn about the different experiments conducted on row crops (cotton, corn, soybeans and wheat) and beef cattle. Using different soils, irrigation, pesticides and other factors, the research station continues to benefit the farming community and is nationally recognized for its innovative cotton research.
Cullman County Extension Office Coordinator Tony Glover explained the mission of the Farm-City Committees throughout the state is “to foster relationships between the farming community and the urban community. We do things like this tour and other events to help people have a better understanding of what the diversity of agriculture we have in our state and what farmers deal with but we will usually have some sort of industry focus. It’s to give people an appreciation of agriculture.”
Farm-City Week will take place the week before Thanksgiving, culminating in the Farm-City Banquet Nov. 21, with special guest Stella Parton. Learn more at www.cullmanfarmcity.org.
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