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This page provides information from previous and upcoming Extension Agricultural Education Tour sponsored by the Extension Section of AAEA.

2018: Washington, DC

The three counties that make up Southern Maryland offer a unique perspective of both what was and what is Maryland agriculture. This is the region most associated with the old tobacco economy. It’s home to history, horses, and the region’s ongoing struggle to balance farm productivity with water quality concerns of the Chesapeake Bay and its feeder rivers. A growing role as a bedroom community for the greater Washington D.C. area, brings additional challenges and market opportunities that brings. The Extension Section tour offers a look at those and some unique businesses on this year’s tour.

Shlagel Farms (www.shlagelfarms.com)

Over 100 years of continuous farming. Current fruit and vegetable production sells to chain groceries, wholesalers, and multiple farmers’ markets in the D.C./Baltimore region. A buyers club orders produce online for farm pickup and may include some local meats. Summer has strawberry picking and fall features pumpkin patches and educational tours.

Bunker Hill Farm – Chip Bowling and Family

From Bunker Hill Farm in Newburg, Chip Bowling’s family continues generations of farming in the region. The home farm is 271 acres established in the 1940s on tobacco production with some livestock and grain production. When Chip took over, they took the state tobacco buyout in 2000 and grew to about 1,000 acres of grain in more than 100 leased fields throughout the area. These fields are located where poor management would mean direct runoff to the Potomac and Wicomico rivers, flowing quickly into the Bay. Consequently, water quality and management are a big deal for the Bowlings and Chip and his wife Lynn have been especially active in education and promotion related to that. Among other roles, Chip was the first two-term president of the National Corn Growers Association and is still in demand throughout the country to speak about the challenges of crop farming in the Chesapeake watershed.  Bunker Hill Farm is the backdrop for the tour’s “regional lunch” of downhome cooking and Chip’s thoughts on farming in a region wholly focused on risk of Bay contamination. There will also be discussion of commercial grain farming and domestic/foreign grain marketing in the Maryland-Virginia region.

Hollywood Oyster Company (www.hollywoodoyster.com)

Hollywood Oyster is located on 300 acres where the mile-wide Patuxent River is fed by Hogs Neck Creek in St. Mary’s County. What started as a weekend hobby for Tal Petty has turned into a major commercial effort since 2010. They start from seed on the dock and move the young oysters to water columns on leases throughout the Patuxent and Creek. The whole farm, and the oyster operation is powered by a solar farm. This includes significant chilling, packing and storage facilities not seen on most oyster farms. HOC grows and ships their Hollywood, Sweet Jesus, VaVoom, and Seasiders varieties. Arrangements with other growers are in place to fill any supply gaps. We’ll visit the farm. Maybe even sample some of their fare. Oh, by the way, there’s no movie industry in Hollywood, MD…just lots of Holly trees.

2017: Chicago, IL

The 2017 AAEA Extension Tour included boarding a luxury coach bus with the first stop at the Wells Fargo Capital headquarters to meet with Farm Foundation Leaders. Next was lunch at Fair Oaks Farms followed by a Dairy and Crop Adventure tour.

Fair Oaks Farms brings Reduce, Reuse, Recycle to a whole new light.
Our entire facility runs on cow & pig manure. We transform our farms' waste into energy by way of our anaerobic digesters, we reduce our dependency upon natural gas and electricity during the milk and manufacturing process. This year the use of CNG will reduce the amount of diesel that our milk tanker/trailers use by 2 million gallons. Our barns and plants are also powered by this cutting edge "poo power".

Fair Oaks Farms are a group of like-minded farmers who want to show and educate the public on modern farming practices.  Our farms include Dairy, Pig and Crop Adventures where guests can learn about our practices in a transparent experience.  We are not only committed to educating the public about modern farming efforts, but also to protecting the environment, caring for our animals and ensuring the highest quality products possible.

Sustainability isn't just something we claim, it's how we live.

Fair Oaks Farms in Fair Oaks, Indiana

Dairy Adventure
From Grass to Glass®
Fair Oaks Farms is committed to providing nutritious, savory cheese to our valued customers. From “Grass to Glass” we oversee the entire creation of our award-winning cheeses from the quality milk produced by our cows, who do not receive any rBST, to the fresh ingredients that go into our products.  Learn about sustainability aspects of the farm, cow nutrition, and the safety & nutrition of milk in our exciting exhibits.

Fair Oaks Farms experiences between 80 to 100 calves born every day!

Step inside of unique birthing facility known as the Birthing Barn!  With stadium seating, you will have the opportunity to witness the miracle of life right before your very eyes! 

Crop Adventure
Go Deep Underground
Explore where modern agriculture begins. The WinField Crop Adventure takes you underneath a farmer’s fields, where you will see and touch the world of bugs, roots, seeds and soil.

You’ll learn how farmers, agronomists, processors and many others will help feed 9 billion people.

  • Meet the farmers who grow your food. 
  • Burrow deep underground to see bugs and roots.
  • See and touch the high-tech tools farmers use.
  • Catch virtual raindrops.
  • Imagine the future of modern farming.
  • Discover how corn, soy and wheat improve our lives.
  • Learn what soil doctors do.

2016: Boston, MA

Fenway Park

"America's Most Beloved Ballpark" is uniquely nestled in the city of Boston. The experienced tour guides will provide a thrilling, one hour, walking tour of Fenway Park.

Allendale Farm-An example of urban farming. 

Allandale Farm is nestled on 130 acres of rolling hills, woodland, and farm fields. They cultivate 30 of those acres to grow over a hundred different varieties of vegetables, fruits, and cut flowers.

They are deeply committed to protecting the health and well-being of the land they farm, as well as all the communities and environments connected to the farm. They use traditional organic and sustainable farming practices. They rotate the crops, use green manures to protect the fields and add organic matter, and amend the fields and greenhouse plants with organic fertilizer.

Cranberry Research Station

Located in East Wareham, the Cranberry Experiment Station, a part of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst Campus, is an outreach and research center charged with the mission of maintaining and enhancing the economic viability of the Massachusetts Cranberry Industry through research and outreach and serving the public welfare by supporting economic development and the protection of the environment.

Cranberry research and outreach programs have tremendous impacts on not only the more than 60,000 acres of land owned by the cranberry industry, but on all of the region. Land surrounding cranberry bogs accounts for much of the open space in the area. Water quality and preservation programs are of prime importance as cranberry growers own 22% of all surface water in Plymouth County. The continued viability of the cranberry industry, and other regional agricultural enterprises, is key to the economic vitality and non-urban character of this region.

The Cranberry Station programs are focused on the cranberry production system in the areas of systems ecology (including crop protection and sustainability) and the interaction of cranberry growing and the environment (abiotic factors and management). In their programs we emphasize efficiency, environmental protection, and profitability. Current projects include the use of alternative cultural practices, especially flooding, to control insect, weed, and disease pests in cranberry, a study of the impact of phosphorus use in cranberry production on surface water quality, and physiological factors that may be limiting production.

2015: San Francisco, CA

The tour bus picked up participants at 7:00 am.  The tour of Sonoma County began in Sebastopol.  Devoto Gardens is a 20 acre diversified family farm that was founded in 1976 by Susan and Stan Devoto. The farm started out as one of the North Bay's original micro-green growers, and slowly evolved in biodiversity. Together with their three daughters, the family grows over 50 varieties of heirloom applesspecialty cut flowers, and pinot noir grapes.  The tour of the farm was followed by a tasting of their hard apple ciders.

The second stop was in Geyserville where participants met with l winegrape growers to talk about farming practices, wine production, marketing strategies and key challenges.  Also, the Sonoma County Cooperative Extension viticulture advisor provided an overview of the county’s vineyard industry and answer questions.  The discussion continued over wine and a box lunch. 

The final stop was McEvoy Ranch in Petaluma beginning with a walk in the orchards and vineyards.  This introduction to McEvoy Ranch provided an overview of its history, its commitment to environmental responsibility, its wine program and how they produce award-winning olive oil.  Participants walked in the orchards and vineyards where they talked about the horticulture of their plantings. Next, they visited their state-of-the-art mill for an explanation of their unique process of extracting oil. To finish the tour, participants were lead through an oil tasting and sensory evaluation.  Following the tour, they enjoyed a wine tasting featuring McEvoy Ranch's current releases. The bus returned to the hotel approximately 5:30 PM.

2014: Minneapolis, MN

The tour bus picked up participants at 7:00 am and traveled to Le Sueur and Montgomery, Minnesota to visit Green Giant (owned by General Mills). Guided tours in small groups were conducted of research and development, operations, and other facilities. Lunch was provided on the return trip. The bus returned to the hotel approximately 2:00pm.

2013: Washington, DC

Beginning at 8:00am, the tour bus picked participants at the 24th St. entrance of the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel. The bus headed to Chesapeake Bay where we boarded a working skipjack vessel at the Annapolis Maritime Museum and go for a 2-3 hour cruise to observe fishing activity on Chesapeake Bay.  Skipjacks are traditional vessels that harvest oysters by dredging, and we will pull a sample dredge over oyster bottom.  We learned about the innovative role that Extension plays in aquaculture and restoration activities helping the Chesapeake Bay seafood industry overcome challenges from pollution, over-harvesting, and disease outbreaks. After the skipjack cruise, participants had the opportunity to tour the Annapolis Maritime Museum. Lunch was provided. The bus returned to the hotel approximately 2:00pm.