August 17, 2005 | By: Laura Skillman
OWENSBORO, Ky.

tour groupThree busloads of mostly city dwellers baked in the late afternoon heat to learn more about agriculture’s impact on their community.

This year’s Daviess County Food Production Tour focused on alternative enterprises with stops at a blueberry farm, a produce and corn maze farm, and a vineyard.

The tour is a Greater Owensboro-Daviess County Chamber of Commerce and Daviess County Farm Bureau sponsored event. Annette Heisdorffer, county horticulture agent, and Clint Hardy, county agriculture and natural resources agent with the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service, serve on the chamber’s agribusiness committee and help select the locations.

“This year agritourism was the theme, and these three locations are all good ones,” she said.

Extension agents and specialists have also worked with all three producers in various capacities, including site selection, variety selection and integrated pest management, Heisdorffer said.

The tour lets people not associated with farming see what today’s agriculture is all about. Buses departed from the Extension office and returned folks there for a meal at the tour’s conclusion.

“With the high prices of gasoline, this shows them they don’t have to go far for entertainment and to enjoy the environment around them,” she said.

One of the tour’s stops was at Bruce Kunze’s vineyard. Kunze is growing primarily one variety and sells his grapes to a vineyard in Nicholasville. Kunze said he decided to grow the grapes as a post-retirement occupation and has relied on the expertise of other growers and especially UK Extension fruit specialists and Heisdorffer.

“It’s not like growing a garden, and if you don’t want to grow it again next year, you don’t,” he said. “Once it’s all planted you either have to take care of it or tear it all out, and there’s a big cost up front.”

Nancy McCormick, of Blueberries of Daviess County, said with the loss of tobacco the family began looking for something else to add to their farming income. They chose blueberries. 

“We wanted to do something no one else was doing,” she said.

They began planting in 2001 and have about 3,000 plants. Their first year of production was 2004. Ten different varieties are grown on the farm to enable the season to run from early June to the end of July.
The food tour began about 12 years ago but was discontinued for a few years before being resurrected in 2004, said Wayne Mattingly, an agricultural lender and member of the chamber committee.

“As members of the agriculture industry we are very proud of our history,” he said. “As you can see today, traditional agriculture is still strong and alternative agriculture is also strong in this community.“

Contact: 

Writer: Laura Skillman 270-365-7541 ext. 278

Contact: Annette Heisdorffer, 270-685-8480