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Dr. Alan Windham, UT plant pathologist, and field day visitor

Alan Windham, a plant pathologist with UT Extension, addresses a plant issue at a recent Fruits of the Backyard Plant Diagnostic booth. The free event also offers insect identification, soil pH testing and three gardening classes.  It takes place on Tuesday, June 16, 2015.  Photo by G. Rowsey, courtesy UTIA. Download image.


SPRING HILL, Tenn. – If you’re searching for fresh, locally-sourced produce, what could be more local than your own backyard? On Tuesday, June 16, University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture experts will show you how to make the most of your outdoor space and reconnect with your food sources at the 8th annual Fruits of the Backyard Field Day. The event takes place at UT's Middle Tennessee AgResearch and Education Center in Spring Hill and is absolutely free.
Registration begins at 8:30 a.m. CDT with formal presentations starting at 9:30. Arrive early so you can tour the trade show and educational displays. Among the exhibitors will be the UT Soil, Plant and Pest Center, which will be offering field day visitors free plant disease diagnostics, insect identification and soil pH testing. Just bring plant and insect specimens for identification. Those interested in learning the pH of their soil should bring a sandwich bag full of the soil they wish to be tested. “A cup of soil is all that is needed to determine if soil pH is optimal for your plants,” says Debbie Joines, manager of the UT Soil, Plant and Pest Center. She says those desiring more comprehensive tests should visit the SPPC website ( for instructions or call a local UT Extension office.
The three educational presentations will take you through the growing season, harvest and product marketing. Learn how to extend your growing season with backyard greenhouses and other ideas.  Discover the best techniques for preserving your harvest, and pick up tips for selling your surplus at farmers’ markets.
At the conclusion of the presentations, visitors are invited to participate in an open panel question and answer session. The panel will include all speakers, plus additional UT specialists.  Area farmers will also be on hand to answer questions throughout the day in the educational displays area.
Fruits of the Backyard concludes at 12:30 p.m.  For more program details, visit the website or call 931-486-2129.
The Middle Tennessee AgResearch and Education Center is located on Highway 31, just minutes south of Nashville. Take exit 53 from I-65 and follow the signs to Columbia. The Research and Education Center is on the east side of Hwy. 31.
The Middle Tennessee AgResearch and Education Center is one of 10 research facilities operated by the UT Institute of Agriculture.  In addition to its agricultural research programs, UTIA also provides instruction research and public service through the UT College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, the UT College of Veterinary Medicine and UT Extension offices in every county in the state.
Kevin Thompson, director, Middle Tennessee AgResearch and Education Center, 931-486-2129
Ginger Rowsey, UTIA Marketing & Communications Services, 731-425-4768