On Saturday, September 6, 2014 I took an energetic group of Master Gardeners on a Horticultural tour through Southeast Nebraska. We were even joined by current and past Extension faculty Paul Hay, Larry Germer, and Sondra Germer. This was a fun and educational experience that I am glad I got to share with this wonderful group of Master Gardeners from Gage, Saline, Jefferson, and Lancaster County.
We started out the day at Kimmel Orchard in Nebraska City. We met with Vaughn Hammond, an Extension Educator based out of the orchard, who told us the history of the Kimmel Orchard and the unique relationship that exists between the Kimmel Foundation and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension. Vaughn took us on a hayrack ride through the entire orchard teaching us about the types of fruits they grow and what they have to do to care for all the different types of tree fruits. We were then able to browse the gift shop to purchase apples, cider, and the infamous apple donuts. I purchased apples to make some delicious cinnamon applesauce, Yum!
After lunch in Nebraska City, we moved on to the Lewis and Clark Missouri River Basin Visitors Center. This was a fun place for us to just be on our own to tour the many hiking trails that led to the Missouri River Overlook and to the Earth Lodge that was re-created to look like homes of the Plains Indian. I sure got my exercise here, as the trail to the Missouri River Overlook took a long, steep hill back up to the bus.
Next, we traveled onto Brownville, for the Governor Furnas Arboretum. We received a tour of the grounds by the groundskeeper who told us all about the process of establishing this arboretum in the first place and how they had the aid of the Nebraska Statewide Arboretum and Kim Todd, UNL Professor in Horticulture. This was a nice place to tour as they had used some under-utilized trees that we don’t see as often in our communities.
We finished the day with a relaxing supper at Schillingbridge winery and microbrewery. This was a good experience for us to see all of the grape vines. We were able to discuss the vineyard with owner Sharon Schilling and she described to us the troubles that come with running a vineyard and winery. This year the grapes have been subject to a dry winter, late frost, and hail that has led to a reduced crop.
We all had a great time on this trip and are looking for ideas for another tour next year. After all the fun and learning, though, we were ready to get home and enjoy our apples and cider as well as relaxing on the sofa.