One aspect of “AgriCulture: Innovating for Our Survival,” Discovery Park’s permanent exhibit dedicated to telling the story of innovation in agriculture, 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.
The exhibit will open Dec. 5, 2020 in the Simmons Bank Ag Center.
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.