By Audrey Hertel
July 17, 2019

As the golden sunlight sets across the plains of Nebraska, thousands of acres of vegetation move with the breeze, making waves and turning the flat lands into an ocean. The green sea has a bigger purpose than visual beauty, however, as many of those plants move from land to table. But neither the allure of vegetation swaying in the fields, nor a plate filled with fresh food would be possible without the person who grows it. 

On Saturday, July 27, members of the community will have the opportunity to learn more about the obstacles and triumphs local farmers experience during growing process as well as the manner of how they grow on the Local Farm Tour presented by “How’s it Growin’?” 

In order to attend the tour and learn about these farmers cultivation methods, people must register, and the tour is limited to 50 attendees. 

This is the second year of the farm tour and the first time it is partnering with Buy Fresh Buy Local Nebraska, an organization that helps form relationships between growers and consumers. 

Bob Henrickson of KZUM program “How’s it Growin’?” organized the farm tour and said people should go to learn more about the diverse growing methods used in agriculture. 

“When you think of agriculture in Nebraska oftentimes it’s just us doing the drive-bys, heading down the highway, and we see acre after acre of corn and soybeans. And we’re often unaware that there’s other products being produced in the state that can add to our income,” Henrickson said.

The Local Farm Tour will go to three different farms with a lunch in between the second and third tour. The tour begins at 9 a.m. with Grow With the Flow, where attendees will have the chance to visit Nebraska’s only aquaponics nursery and learn about how plants are fertilized with fish waste. 

“They’re basically cycling in the water through a system and then the waste from the fish used to fertilize plants,” he said. “It’s a closed system where [they are] able to produce flowers and vegetables with much less water than a typical system would.”

The second tour begins at 11 a.m. with Robinette Farms, a local commercial and family farm. Henrickson highlighted the farm’s use of high tunnels as a growing method. 

“These are like greenhouses, but they’re not heated. So you plant your plants in the ground, and then you have a structure up above it that keeps the ground warmer longer in the fall and earlier in the spring,” Henrickson said. 

Henrickson said that homeowners can use this method in their own households. 

“That’s the reason I think you should go,” he said. “One, just to learn the innovative things farmers are doing, and 2, how you can incorporate this on your own property.”

After the second tour attendees can head to the third farm, Brockley Farmecuticals at 12:30 p.m. for a lunch provided by the farm. The tour will begin at 1:30 p.m., and people will be able to learn about the farm’s community supported agriculture. Henrickson also discussed the farm’s use of the Hügelkultur growing method. 

“It’s an ancient practice that was developed out of Europe where people are burying a combination of large sticks and things underground, and over time those logs rot underground and remain intact and act like a sponge,” Henrickson said. “So whenever it rains, the rain soaks up that log and the plants that you have planted on top of the soil that’s above that mound of logs now taps into that moisture.” 

Henrickson said he is excited to visit the farms and learn about their different growing styles, and he is also hoping the attendees and farmers find it to be worth their while. 

“Sure I am looking forward to seeing the farms for sure, but at the end of the day, I want people to say, ‘This was great, this was awesome, and thanks for doing it,’” Henrickson said. “Then I know that they felt it was worth their time, and the farmers felt it was worth their time. I’m just looking forward to the good feeling when it’s all said and done.”

Registration for the event filled up on July 24. 

Audrey Hertel is a multimedia intern with KZUM.