June 10, 2009

Fleming County's
Fleming County's
A colorful agritourism attraction has bloomed in northeast Kentucky with help from the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service.  Quilt block gardens are now popping up across a five-county area.

Donna Fryman, family and consumer sciences agent in Fleming County, first saw the flower gardens in an article about Elkhart, Ind. in a tourism magazine.  She traveled to northern Indiana with her husband and sons to view the gardens and determine whether the idea would work in Kentucky.

Northeast Kentucky is blanketed by many quilt block bedecked barns linked by quilt trails. The barns and trails have been successful agritourism attractions in the area, Fryman said.

"I thought this would be a good tie-in with our quilt barns," she said. "Our office in Fleming County works closely with the local agritourism alliance, and we thought it would be a good promotion for our local greenhouses. Plus with the 2010 Equestrian Games, it could be a tourism draw for those who maybe want to see something different."

When Fryman returned from Indiana, she shared the idea with fellow agents in Bracken, Lewis, Mason and Robertson counties, and all expressed interest in the project.

Lewis County's Puritan Star Quilt Block GardenRoseanne Wood, Lewis County program assistant for community development and tourism, began work on the project in her county. She enlisted help from students in the Workforce Improvement class at Lewis County High School to plant a garden with the Puritan Star pattern on the Lewis County Courthouse lawn.

"It's an agritourism attraction and complements our quilt barn trail," she said. "Plus, it improves the grounds of the courthouse."

In Fleming County, Fryman and Cindy Jolly, the county's Children, Youth, and Families at Risk program assistant, worked with CYFAR youth to put in a garden called "4-H's" at the Fleming County extension office in honor of Kentucky 4-H's centennial anniversary this year. In addition to planting the garden, Fryman and Jolly taught the students about landscape design, plotting, fertilizers, pruning and helped them use math to determine how many plants to use in the flower bed. The students will maintain the garden throughout the summer.

Since this is the first year for the gardens, the agents and program assistants hope others will be inspired and interested in growing a garden next year.

"In the future, I can foresee this being a great project for high school horticulture classes and a great addition for agritourism businesses," Fryman said.

Any businesses, schools, community organizations or individuals in the area are welcome to grow a quilt block garden. Gardens need to be at least 8 feet by 8 feet and visible and accessible to the public. Each business, organization or individual must keep the garden weeded, watered and maintained during the growing season. Area family and consumer sciences agents are keeping track of the gardens to try to avoid duplicate patterns. Those interested in growing a quilt block garden should contact their local agent for more details.

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