‘There’s something happening here’

Published 7:40 pm Thursday, April 8, 2010

Polk County ‘s plans for a facility focused on growing the local agricultural economy took a big step forward recently thanks to more than 100 volunteers.
Volunteer Day at the Polk County Agricultural Developerment Center in Mill Spring drew considerable community support, according to county officials.
About 110 friends of agriculture committed a Saturday to beautify the exterior and restore the interior at the old Mill Spring School, tthe agricultural center’s new home.
Volunteers turned out to paint the inside walls of the old school rooms and prepare them for their new purposes, such as a local goods trading post, farm to fork caf, business start-up center, and a living museum that will provide information on all things local.
Outside, there were people in motion under a cool March sun spreading compost from last years Barbecue festival in plant beds and installing donated trees and shrubs from A Growing Concern plant nursery.
There was even a Cub Scout troop following John Vining around as he gave live demonstrations on horticulture and plant identification.
“It was like I was swept up by the whole experience,” said one volunteer. “Theres something special happening here,” she added.
Other donations included tractor work by Wally Traut, construction by Chris Carroll, Theron Goodwin, Wally Huges and many others.
Lunch was catered by Dori Ray of Tryon who started her business, Soups With Love, in a recent Mountain Biz Works course, and several people brought in baked goods and covered dishes to share.
Besides the great weather and food there was live music by Gaye and Phil Johnson during lunch. Polk commissioner Ray Gasperson introduced the local duo who then performed a five song set of folky bluegrass.
The agricultural center says every little bit accomplished is one step closer to achieving the center’s goals.
“How truly appreciative we are to receive such community-spirited support and sense of personal ownership in the vision and mission of this unprecedented project,” says the agricultural center.
According to the center, the following jobs were accomplished on Volunteer Day: Painted downstairs halls, scraped walls, polished chairs and polished floors in the 500-seat Auditorium, painted six rooms downstairs, painted “Mill Spring School” sign est. in 1928, installed yard-sign for the Ag center, planted dozens of ornamental shrubbery and trees with three dump loads of donated manure and compost, cut and cleared brush, built-out interior walls, built-out a communications closet, scraped halls upstairs, and finally, a Home-Made Soup and Sandwich lunch with drink and dessert was served. Live Music was provided and plant watering water was brought over by the Mill Spring Fire Department!
The Polk County Office of Agricultural Economic Development announced plans last year to transform the old school building into a multi-purpose center to support Polks agricultural economy, as well as arts, tourism, health and wellness and education.
The new ag centers vision is to enhance community spirit and quality of life by working with farmers, businesses and individuals as well as state and federal agencies to promote the sustainable economic growth and rural charter of Polk County. The center will do so through collaborate projects and innovation in the fields of agriculture, natural resources, education, tourism, health and wellness, art and music.
The Polk Soil and Water Conservation District is partnering with the agricultural development office on the project. The center is also seeking funding through foundation and government grants as well as tax deductible donations from businesses and individuals.
The first phase of renovations includes repairing, painting and basic maintenance of the facility.
The second phase will include updating equipment, remodeling, installing supplemental green power, greenhouses, gardens, elevators, and a banquet hall for conference and large events. The former school building also has a 500-seat auditorium, which can be used for a wide range of purposes.
Future projects include a commercial culinary center, agricultural economic development projects, outdoor education programs, an art studio and gallery and green power projects.
The agricultural development center is seeking tax deductible donations for office equipment and furniture, tools, landscaping supplies, appliances and more. For more information about the agricultural center, upcoming events or the local produce subscription program (CSA), contact the agricultural development office at 828-894-2281 or visit www.polkcountyfarms.org, or find the group on Facebook.
List of volunteers
Volunteers listed are those who signed the Volunteer Day register:
Norm and Preston Bowyer, Mable Searcy Carlyle, Carly Woods, Jonathon and David Pritchard, Wally Trauth, Roger Newman, Joanie Newman, Miles and Donna Southworth, Dean & Lynn Geier, Betty and Newman Skinner, Anita Miller, Dina Pellegrenon, Lynn and Eric Turner, Melanie Sand, Susie Welsh, Warren Watson, Jacque Ziller, Roy Kelly, Sherry Hardin, Daryl Hardin, June-Ellen Bradley, David Weiss, Doug Harmon, Dave Slater, Lynn Sprague, Frank Smith, Dori Ray, Phil and Gaye Johnson, Mill Spring Fire Dept., Friends of Kipp McIntire, Steve Modlin, Emily Clark, Kaye Cannon, Eric Eaton, Celeste Eaton, Grant Eaton, Cub Scout Troop P659, Gail Stockdale, Carol Lynn Jackson, Bronwyn Pellatt, Rachel Vining, John Vining, Matt Page, Mike Blackwell, Jo-Ann Blackwell, Kyle Wolff, Sandra Patent, Savannah Patent, Linda Leake, Jonathon Leek, Amber Thompson, Trey Thompson, Sylvester Durandette, Cinda Austin, Wade Bradley, Ambrose Mills, Mitch Modlin, Dawn Jordan, Angie Tipton, Mark Bandos, Janice Bandos, Ruth Prine, Mildred Cochran, Lewis Williams, Colin Searcy, Jimmy Searcy, Nina Searcy, Lukas Tipton, Krystle Fortenberry, Alyssa Lawless, Clark Loro, Susan Albee, Bill Barker, Shawna Hughes, Wally Hughes, Zach Carroll, Jacob Carroll, Chris Carroll, Sam Basye, Bill Basye, Flynn Chapman, Keith Viglietta, Theron and Janet Gordinning, Don Jaeger, Vaugn Loefller, Alonzo Brooks, Troy Brooks, Sean Corcoran, Ryan Blanton, Laura French, Ian Jensen, John Ruth, Moira McCormick, Joseph Burdett.

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