Discovery Park of America Announces Additional Partners and New Details for Upcoming Exhibit on Innovation in Agriculture
Union City, Tenn.— Discovery Park of America has announced new partners and more details for “AgriCulture: Innovating for Our Survival,” a permanent exhibit dedicated to telling the story of innovation in agriculture. The exhibit will open Dec. 5, 2020 in the Simmons Bank Ag Center.
New partners include The Dairy Alliance; East Tennessee Nursery and Tennessee Department of Agriculture Division of Forestry; H&R Agri-Power and Case IH; Roundstone Native Seed; “Silo”; Star Pastures Apiary; Tennessee Beef Promotion Board; and USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.
The Tennessee Beef Promotion Board has contributed $50,000 to the exhibit that tells the story of farming innovation in the past, present—and especially—future in a fun and interactive way. Visitors of all ages will gain an understanding of how food and fiber get from the farm to the family and the role technological, scientific and genetic innovation in agriculture plays in society and culture around the world. “Those of us who work every day in the agriculture industry are always looking for fun ways to educate the public on where their food comes from,” said Valerie Bass, executive director of the board. “The board and I believe an exhibit with facts about innovation in all areas of agriculture is going to fill that need in a unique way.”
Guests to Discovery Park have seen a completely refurbished 1914 Case steam engine on display in front of the Simmons Bank Ag Center. When the new exhibit opens, that example of innovation of the past will be on display next to a modern tractor of today loaded with new technology thanks to H&R Agri-Power and Case IH. “We’re excited about this opportunity to help educate the public on the latest and greatest advancements in farm equipment,” said Wayne Hunt, president of a 17-store Case IH dealership with stores in Kentucky, Tennessee, Illinois, Indiana, Mississippi and Alabama. “I’m certain visitors to this exhibit are going to be surprised at how modern tools are allowing farmers to maximize both their time and their resources,” said Hunt. H&R Agri-Power and Case IH are also making a $50,000 contribution to the exhibit.
The Dairy Alliance, a nonprofit funded by dairy farm families of the Southeast, is contributing $15,000 to the project. “On behalf of dairy farm families, we work to educate the public with facts about dairy foods and the innovation taking place in dairy that allows farmers to do more with less,” said Denise Jones, manager for farm relations for Kentucky and Tennessee. “We believe a fun exhibit like this one is a great way to help people learn more about this important aspect of agriculture.”
The exhibit designers at Solid Light, the firm chosen by Discovery Park to create this new exhibit, are also working with Samuel Goldberg, producer of “Silo”, to tell the story of how innovation impacts farm safety. “Silo” is a film inspired by the story of an 18-year-old farmhand who got stuck in a grain silo. Goldberg spent five years researching with farmers and rural fire departments on the topic of farm safety in order to produce the film.
One aspect of the exhibit that requires a unique approach is a large observation honey bee hive that will display the internal components and working of an active hive. Stephen Penick, an occupational therapist, beekeeper and owner of Star Pastures Apiary, is working closely with Solid Light on the production of the display unit and is providing the bees for the hive that will offer a unique glimpse into the daily life of a working colony of honey bees within the exhibit. Additionally, scientists from the pollinator team at Bayer U.S. – Crop Science have been providing research and educational materials for this area of the exhibit that will help educate the public on the role of pollinators like bees and butterflies in agriculture today.
While the exhibit design team has been working with these new partners and many others to develop this one-of-a-kind exhibit, they’ve also been working with sponsor Nutrien Ag Solutions to begin turning the area in front of the Simmons Bank Ag Center into a working display of crops frequently grown throughout the region. Row crops like corn, cotton and soybeans will eventually be seen growing on what is now a lush, green lawn. Plans also include space for flowering plants that will offer nectar and pollen throughout the growing season to attract and support a variety of pollinators. This section will also connect to Discovery Park’s existing vineyard that produces grapes that are harvested and then sold to area wineries.
Mike Hansbrough, area resource biologist for the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), is also working with the exhibit designers and Discovery Park’s grounds director, John Watkins, to make certain guests can learn more about the role of conservation in agriculture today. “The NRCS helps America’s farmers, ranchers and forest landowners conserve the nation’s soil, water, air and other natural resources,” said Hansbrough. “I’m excited we can help educate the public on how we provide technical expertise and conservation planning for farmers and landowners wanting to make conservation improvements to their land.” Roundstone Native Seed will be working with Hansbrough and providing a diverse selection of native seeds for the pollinator garden, and the East Tennessee Nursery and Tennessee Department of Agriculture Division of Forestry is providing a selection of hardwood shrub seedlings selected specifically for wildlife habitat enhancement.
When the exhibit on innovation in agriculture launches, a memorable part will no doubt be the “faces of farming” that will be on display featuring photographs taken around the region by photographer Luke Johnson. “If your first thought of a farmer is of the stereotype that we see in popular culture, the reality may just surprise you,” said Jennifer Wildes, Discovery Park’s exhibits director. “The men and women who chose to dedicate their lives to providing food, fuel and fiber for families around the world vary in age, gender and race just like other industries.” In anticipation of the opening of the exhibit, Discovery Park has created an online gallery at Discoveryparkofamerica.com/facesoffarming to share just a few of the hundreds of photos that have been taken of farmers, ranchers and others who are part of the agriculture industry today and who will be included in the exhibit.
While the impact of the coronavirus and the shift to working from home in early March created challenges for the team researching, writing and creating this exhibit, work quickly shifted to the virtual world with frequent online meetings and creative planning sessions for those working on the exhibit around the country. While the final opening date shifted slightly to Dec. 5, 2020 to accommodate the impact of the production schedule, the exhibit is still anticipated to open in late 2020.
AgLaunch Initiative; The Dairy Alliance; Danny Larcom Heating & Air; Obion County Farm Bureau; Tennessee Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom, Tosh Farms; and Will Wade and Pat Wade
East Tennessee Nursery and the Tennessee Department of Agriculture Division of Forestry; FarmSpace Systems, LLC; Roundstone Native Seed; Silo; Star Pastures Apiary; The University of Tennessee at Martin; USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service; and WCTE, Upper Cumberland PBS.
For a current list of Champions of Agriculture, visit the website.
To partner with Discovery Park on this very important exhibit, email Mary Nita Bondurant at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 731-676-3556.