“Look Up In THe Sky …”
© Eddie Rhoades
You can only be in one place at the time so I had to choose between the annual meeting of the Georgia State Master Gardeners at Atlanta Botanical Gardens and the Georgia Fruit And Vegetable Growers Association three day meeting in Savannah. My wife Linda said she wanted to go to Savannah so that was a deciding factor. There was a spouse tour of some of the places mentioned in “Midnight In The Garden Of Good And Evil”, shopping at Market Square and Riverfront, a trade show and a paddleboat ride with a live band, buffet, and dancing – all very affordable. Evening entertainment at the motel was provided by A.J.Bullard and wife Barbara playing guitar and fiddle on old standards. So you can see how Savannah won out plus I had Ivan Tatum as my representative at the Master Gardener meeting giving out bookmarks of my website. (Thanks Ivan).
The symposium was divided into categories that met concurrently. There were parts of it that were confusing as to where some of the meeting rooms were and what the exact times were as some literature gave the times in blocks. I won’t go into individual topics but broad topics were blueberries, muscadines, strawberries, brambles, vegetables and marketing. I added a few more names to my list of Southern highbush blueberries: Cooper and Ozarkblue. It’s amazing the things you pick up at these meetings. I learned that if you plant tomatoes over the septic line you don’t have to salt them. And if you water them with viagra, you won’t even have to stake them. The most interesting thing of the whole symposium was at the session on Marketing where the person with the most successful new marketing idea would win $100.
One gentleman told about having busloads of school children brought out to his pumpkin farm for hayrides and having their picture taken with a pumpkin scarecrow. Jack Reese, with his successful orchard of Oriental persimmons, said all he ever did was give one ripe persimmon to one little old Oriental lady and now every year they show up by the hundreds at harvest time.
Then Karen Brothers of Far Reach Ranch in Tavares, Florida told us about how she and her husband operate their own pick-your-own strawberry operation. On a still afternoon with winds no more than 7 MPH, Jerry lays out his paraglider on the ground behind him. He straps on his paramotor which is a tubular frame and harness with a motor and a huge fan on back. It carries a 2 1/2 gallon gas tank. Jerry cranks the paramotor, runs less than twenty steps and is airborne! He has been up as high as 1,200 ft but prefers to fly between 200 to 400 feet. As he flies around in big circles he unfurls a banner that reads “follow me to Jerry’s berries”. Then he heads down the highway with wife Karen following along in the chase vehicle. He turns off and slowly descends at his farm and lands by the lake. It works! Usually a caravan of five or so vehicles arrive. Sometimes people think he’s a crashing parachutist and call the police who by now are well aware of what’s going on. Jerry tells me he performs this feat 2 or 3 times a week in season in fair weather. It requires no license and sometimes he takes aerial photos with a disposable camera. Amazingly enough the guy with the pumpkin patch hay rides won the $100 prize because I suppose his marketing techniques were more productive. All I can say is anybody that has the nerve to turn themselves into a human kite is mighty brave.
You can visit Karen & Jerry at www.FarReachRanch.com