Monday, September 10, 2007

MU Extension to sponsor Mid-Missouri

The University of Missouri Extension is sponsoring a Mid-Missouri region horticultural tour for the public that's meant to feature history and an unique slice of agriculture- the Amish in the Clark countryside.

The MU Extension Audrain Region Fall Craft and Flower Tour, scheduled for Friday Sept. 28, will take tour goers to the Clark Produce Auction, to Chance Gardens in Centralia, Mo., and to a couple of local farm-based Amish businesses.

"This is geared toward people interested in history, gardening, and old-time farming. Last years' tour filled completely up, the weather was splendid, and there were plenty of smiles when smelling roses," said James Quinn, MU Extension horticultural specialist.

There has been ongoing interest expressed by members in Mid-Missouri with the Master Gardener program, an MU Extension-sponsored volunteer program, to visit the 400-cultivar rose garden at Chance Gardens, Quinn said.

"This gives people an ideal time and venue to go visit it and combine the trip with the Annual Fall Craft and Pumpkin Sale, the luncheon and a tour of the Chance mansion," Quinn said. "The two auction rings inspired several participants last year to join the fun and bid- they were pleased with their final purchase price!"

The tour begins at 10 a.m. at the Clark Produce Auction, which will be holding its Fifth Annual Fall Craft and Pumpkin Sale. Tour goers will hear about the Amish and Mennonite produce auctions throughout the United States, as well as the Clark Amish Community. Then they will be able to see and experience the Clark auction, which features Amish crafts, pumpkins, other fresh produce, and some canned products.

The tour will remain there for a portion of the auction.

From there, the tour will go to a nearby Amish farm business where they'll have a chance to buy some fresh bread.

The final stop will be at Chance Gardens in Centralia, for a luncheon and tour of the gardens and mansion. The original garden, designed with oriental influences, was planted under the direction of the late Centralia industrialist A.B. Chance. The rose garden, planted later, is considered one of the best in Missouri. The mansion adjacent to the gardens, built in 1904 by a local citizen, changed ownership several times and eventually served as the guest house for the A.B. Chance Company from 1954 to 1973, according to the Centralia, Mo. Web site. Now it is a museum and home to the Centralia Historical Society.

The Audrain region tour is $15, including lunch. Advance registration is required and the tour is limited to 40 people.

For more information or to register, contact the Audrain County MU Extension Center at 573-581-3231 or e-mail

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