Yard and Garden Area at Ag Progress Days expands offerings

July 31, 2019

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Creating pollinator-friendly landscapes again will be the focus of the Yard and Garden Area at Ag Progress Days, Aug. 13-15, but many other activities will be going on there, as well.

“We have added activities for children such as a butterfly house, and for adults we added a victory garden theme in the high tunnel and added six additional presentations in the Yard and Garden Tent,” said Andy Faust, Master Gardener area coordinator. “We are trying to get more youth involved with the Yard and Garden Area, and also offer more informative and relevant talks and presentations.”

The flowers and plantings in the 9-year-old demonstration plots at the site attract and nourish huge numbers of native bees, butterflies and other pollinators. With pollinators in jeopardy, Penn State Master Gardeners teamed with horticulture faculty members to create and nurture the gardens — located at the end of 11th Street at the show site — to demonstrate that supplying pollinators with food and habitat can be beautiful.

"The demonstration plots serve as living proof that the average gardener can do something to attract and help pollinators," said Yard and Garden Area organizer Molly Sturniolo, Penn State Extension Master Gardener coordinator for Centre County. "Planting these flowers and other host plants is well within the ability of the average Pennsylvania gardener."

To help support and propagate these beneficial insects, Penn State Master Gardeners will again offer the Pollinator Friendly Garden Certification program, which teaches homeowners and gardeners to certify their landscapes as pollinator friendly.

The certification includes such steps as planting a year-round native garden of diverse and abundant plants, maintaining a parcel of wild and undisturbed vegetation, installing bee nests, and minimizing pesticide use. Visitors who sign up to complete the four-step certification process, which carries a $10 fee, will be eligible to purchase a pollinator-friendly sign for their property.

And, as gardening enthusiasts have come to expect from the Yard and Garden Area, attendees can get advice and information on flower arranging, growing herbs, square-foot gardening, creating habitat for bees and butterflies, and growing in high-tunnels. Experts, including Penn State Master Gardeners, will be on hand to answer questions about gardening and landscaping.

In addition, specialists from Penn State's departments of Plant Science, Plant Pathology and Environmental Microbiology, and Entomology will offer advice and help to solve plant and pest problems. Visitors can bring insects or plant samples for identification.

Located adjacent to the raised garden beds will be an observation beehive, where experts from the Pennsylvania State Beekeepers Association and Penn State Extension will conduct honey bee demonstrations and provide guidance. Visitors can see posters explaining Penn State research on pollinator issues, and prospective beekeepers can get information on Penn State Extension's innovative online course, Beekeeping 101.

For the more curious and adventurous types who would like to gain a deeper understanding of beekeeping, a small bee yard — where visitors can watch a beekeeper open hives and talk about the honey bees' daily activities — will be located up the hill from the honey bee demonstration area.

The Yard and Garden Area also will highlight the benefits of growing plants in high tunnels and backyard high tunnels, which are greenhouse-like structures that often enable growers to fine-tune the growth environment and extend the growing season.

The following presentations and activities are scheduled at the Yard and Garden Area:

Tuesday, Aug. 13 

  • All Day: Ask a Master Gardener (Yard and Garden Tent)
  • 10-10:30 a.m.: “Seed Saving Basics” (Yard and Garden Tent)
  • 10:30 a.m.-noon: Children's Activities (Yard and Garden Tent)
  • 11 a.m.: Victory Gardens Talk 
  • 1 p.m.: Ten Skills Every Gardener Should Know (Yard and Garden Tent)
  • 2 p.m.: Flower Arranging (Yard and Garden Tent)

Wednesday, Aug. 14

  • All Day: Ask a Master Gardener (Yard and Garden Tent)
  • 10 a.m.: From Garden to Genetic Engineering: The Tale of Two bacteria (Yard and Garden Tent)
  • 10:30 a.m.-noon: Children's Activities (Yard and Garden Tent)
  • 11 a.m.: Flower Arranging (Yard and Garden Tent)
  • 1 p.m.: Growing Garlic (Yard and Garden Tent)
  • 3 p.m.: It’s Tool Time (Yard and Garden Tent)
  • 5 p.m.: What is a Fruit? (Yard and Garden Tent) 

Thursday, Aug. 15 

  • All Day: Ask a Master Gardener (Yard and Garden Tent)
  • 10 a.m.: Soil Testing Made Easy (Yard and Garden Tent) 
  • 10:30 a.m.-noon: Children's Activities 
  • 11 a.m.: Victory Gardens Talk 
  • 1 p.m.: Flower Arranging (Yard and Garden Tent)
  • 1:30-2 p.m.: Master Gardner Pollinator Garden Talk (College Building)

Sponsored by Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences, Ag Progress Days is held at the Russell E. Larson Agricultural Research Center at Rock Springs, located 9 miles southwest of State College on Route 45. Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Aug. 13; 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Aug. 14; and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Aug. 15. Admission and parking are free.

For more information, visit the Ag Progress Days website. Twitter users can find and share information about the event by using the hashtag #agprogressdays, and the event also can be found on Facebook (@AgProgressDays).

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated August 01, 2019