September 16, 2010

For decades the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture has offered Eastern Kentuckians vital support through Robinson Forest, Robinson Station and the Wood Utilization Center. Now, all three units are operating under one umbrella and a new name to reflect their unity - the Robinson Center for Appalachian Resource Sustainability or RCARS. On Oct. 2, the center will offer its first biannual field day under the new name.

"The main field day is Oct. 2, but we have activities planned all week," said David Ditsch, director of the center. "We still have the traditional wagon tours of our research plots, but we've also got some very focused workshops and tours where people can really immerse themselves in one or two areas of interest."

The week will begin with two Pumpkin Days Sept. 28 and 29 when approximately 1,000 children will come to RCARS for pumpkin-related educational experiences. The children will taste pumpkin dip, create pumpkin art and learn how pumpkins grow. They’ll also pick a pumpkin from the patch to take home.

The center will welcome middle school students for Youth Natural Resources Field Day Sept. 30.

“We have several activities targeted to the middle school students including water quality testing, nature crafts, geocaching, vermi-composting and enviroscape activities,” Ditsch said. “We are trying to be relevant to their culture and trends and teach them something at the same time.”

The whole week leads up to the Mountain Ag and Energy Field Day Oct. 2. This is the first time the field day will take place on a Saturday.

“Attendance in 2008 was not where we wanted it to be, and we wanted to reach more people, “Ditsch said. “The change will hopefully allow more working people to attend and benefit from the tours, booths and other educational opportunities throughout the day.”

Ditsch explained that this year the field day will have a significant energy focus.

“I’m very excited about this addition,” he said. “It is a very timely topic for our region, and we’ll be getting support from the Governor’s Office of Ag Policy to help address energy efficiency, energy sources and economic opportunities.”

Other focus areas of the Oct. 2 field day will include basic horse management, pasture renovation, a cutting board making workshop, high value fall crops and farmers markets, beef cattle production, grapes, vineyards and winemaking, beekeeping and honey production, small flock pasture poultry production, the history of Quicksand and the impact of Robinson Station on Eastern Kentucky and a tour of the Robinson Forest Stream Zone Management area.

A study tour of Robinson Forest, which is limited to 40 people, will depart Quicksand at 12:30 p.m. and return at 4:30 p.m. Participants will learn about logging and water quality protection in Eastern Kentucky; a timber harvesting streamside management zone study; cumulative effects of timber harvesting on water quality and visit the harvesting site of the streamside management zone study.

Those interested in energy sources, efficiency and economic opportunities will want to spend the day in the energy track at Quicksand. The track starts with an overview of agri-energy activities in Kentucky, followed by sessions on biomass crops, biodiesel refinery, energy from algae and a small-scale pellet mill demonstration. You can also learn about energy efficiency for homeowners and businesses and get more details about economic opportunities for biomass energy in Kentucky and eco-power generation.

Make sure to visit the exhibits under the tent including a quilt show and see the energy displays and equipment demonstrations from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

More information is available online at http://www2.ca.uky.edu/rcars .