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  Agriculture Tour Report
By: Dausen Duncan
Tuesday, July 10, 2012
This past Friday, July 6th, the state officer team and Mr. Chris Bacchus went on an Arkansas Agriculture Tour. We left out from Camp Couchdale at 8:30 a.m. in route to Clarksville to visit the University of Arkansas’ Fruit Research Experiment Station where the facility director, Mr. Dan Chapman, showed us around the orchard and educated us on peach, blackberry, nectarine, blueberry, apple and grape production. We were intrigued by the amount of time it took and how much strategy played a part in fruit production in order to accommodate the best stock of produce for consumers.

Despite the 110 degree heat that we endured, the U of A Fruit Research Experiment Station was very interesting and we tip our hats to the men and women who provide us with such healthy fruit! Following the Fruit Research Experiment Station, we spent some time at a Tyson Broiler Farm in Hagarville, Arkansas, where we experienced first-hand the works of the broiler farm.

When we arrived, the heat was miserable! In such heat, we couldn’t see how the chicken houses were still up and running, but Mrs. Nedra Bacchus led us in to one of the six houses located on the Bacchus farm. The temperature difference was phenomenal. We went from 110 degrees outside to about 78 degrees inside the chicken houses.

It was interesting to see that the houses were ran by computers. From the fans and lights to the misters and feeders, all were computer operated!

Thank you Mr. and Mrs. Bacchus for allowing us to go through the farm and dig deeper into Arkansas Agriculture!

Next stop, the Lamar FFA Animal Science Facility! This stop was definitely unique in its own way. It was filled with a broad spectrum of exotic animals ranging from a miniature bull and horse to llamas and alpacas and a little bit of everything in between. This stop allowed us to view the different areas of animal science facilities across the state of Arkansas as well as spend time with some unusual animals that we wouldn’t see every day.

Even though our day had already been full of comedy, this stop was no exception! The Lamar FFA Chapter has a wide range of animals in their barn, but after visiting their facility, we know that the animals are very well taken care of!

After our Lamar stop, we headed toward Altus, Arkansas to visit the Wiederkehr Family Vineyards and Winery. The history at the wine cellar was extraordinary as we were enlightened about the operations of the winery from the very beginning to now.

During the tour, we were taken under ground into the wine cellar which was dug by hand by the Wiederkehr family back in the 1880’s!

Johann Andreas Wiederkehr, who was a young Swiss immigrant, established the Wiederkehr Wine Cellars. Once he arrived there, he brought his knowledge of grape growing along and began pioneering the wine industry here in Arkansas by planting the best grape varieties and producing the finest wines and quality juices.

The best part of the winery was definitely the history that was crawling throughout the whole facility! It was a very neat experience and if you’re ever in Altus, Arkansas, don’t forget to give Wiederkehr Winery a stop!

By this point it’s getting to be about 5:00 p.m. before we arrive at the Paris FFA Animal Science Facility at the Paris High School. We were blessed with a short rain shower while we took a peak at the new facility that Paris FFA has!

We were also able to see James and Mark Dement’s SAE Projects. They had approximately six show pigs lounging beneath the misters and fans. These six pigs were very good quality show pigs and we look forward to seeing at the Arkansas State Fair Livestock Show in October!

The Paris FFA Animal Science Facility is equipped with new cattle chute, hog pens, covered barn, open arena and even a classroom space! Among all of these great features, probably the most interesting were the live-feed cameras that overlooked the animal barn. If need be, they can easily log on and keep an eye on their animals from miles away.

Our final stop of the day was Mt. Magazine State Park. We drove higher and higher up the mountain until finally we arrived at the lodges that sat atop the tallest mountain in Arkansas. The view was simply breathtaking.

We hiked a short while to stand on “Signal Hill,” the highest point in Arkansas, which stands 2,743 ft. tall! Being able to hike up the mountain and see farmland from almost 3,000 above, we were really able to reflect on how much Arkansas agriculture has to offer to the world.

Out of our six stops throughout the day, ending on top of Mt. Magazine was the perfect way to round out such an educational and unforgettable day!

Arkansas FFA, don’t forget about all that Arkansas agriculture has to offer. The opportunities are endless and the tradition will remain excellent!

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