Sprague’s departure loss for Polk County

Published 4:57 pm Tuesday, April 2, 2013

To promote something you must educate people about its purpose, its use and its value to their lives.

A shining feature of the Mill Spring Agricultural Development and Community Center and Lynn Sprague is education. Sprague has worked diligently over the past five years to educate the public of Polk County and surrounding areas about the importance of local farming.

Much of this effort sprung forth through the revival of the Mill Spring School into what is now the Mill Spring Agricultural Development and Community Center.

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Multiple people have said to Bulletin staff, “Who else could have brought that building [Mill Spring School] back to life but Lynn Sprague?”

From 1921 until 1993 Mill Spring School’s doors swiveled back and forth with the passing of eager minds in and out of its classrooms. For 13 years however it stood abandoned, its hallways and rooms whispering of lessons – many about agriculture – taught all those years ago.

Today those doors once again stand open to similar eager minds seeking information about starting new farming ventures, getting their products in front of customers, learning a new hobby, uncovering a new craft or becoming better educated about the food they eat.

Sprague, with the heart and help of a host of volunteers, brought this life back to the building, back to the forefront of thinking in Polk County. Now the “ag center” as its known, serves as an epicenter of agricultural education.

How better can you promote our area farmers than to educate potential customers about the soil they till and the produce they yield in such a way that makes them want to buy their product?

Lynn Sprague has done that for Polk County, taking what was just a handful of vendors at an occasional farmers market to what is now a vibrant marketplace reaching almost 60 vendors some weekends.

Don’t forget the creation of the Polk Fresh Farm Store where one can purchase strawberries, herbs, eggs, lettuce, beef, salsas and jams among value-added products like soap and dishtowels.

Did you even know what a value-added product was before coming in contact with efforts at the ag center? We didn’t. Neither did we understand the community built while sitting down at a table for 100 at a Farm-to-Fork dinner or digging into scrambled eggs next to a soon-to-be friend at an ag breakfast.

We know Sprague didn’t do all this alone. Dozens of enthusiastic community members served as catalysts for this project and that project, but it takes the vision of someone like Sprague to spur the kind of activity we’ve seen during his time in Polk County.

Lynn, no wishes of good fortune are necessary in your new endeavor as we are optimistic those who are next to benefit from your hard work will realize how fortunate they are to have you.

– Tryon Daily Bulletin Editorial Staff