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About 80 local people came together Wednesday for a free area agriculture tour sponsored by the Hardin and LaRue County Conservation Districts. Participants were all ages, from middle school-aged kids to grandparents.
After visiting a farm in Hardin County, the group came to Hodgenville to visit the LaRue County Environmental and Education Center. There, they learned about native Kentucky grasses from a National Resources Conservation Service representative.
Before the commonwealth was settled generations ago, there were about three million acres of native grass prairie. Eventually, a lot of that prairie was farmed over, but many native grasses still exist in the state, with many represented at the center.
Participants of the agriculture tour also got to listen to a Division of Forestry representative talk about the preservation and management of Kentucky woodlands. The group walked through the Pearman Forest, on the grounds of the Environmental Education Center.
The representative said the Pearman Forest was an “example of how forests can be, and what they should be.” The ice storm that ravaged the area in 2009 was also discussed, and was cited as the “biggest single-impact” event that has happened to the forest, according to the representative.
“The district is really trying to be more aggressive in raising awareness for conservation,” said James Tharp, the chairman of the District. “A lot of people in the county don’t even know there is a conservation district.”
With awareness, comes action. And action in the environment and community is what the Conservation District is all about. Currently, the district is working on building rain gardens around the community. With the design being used by the district, rain gardens can catch up to 80 percent of the rainwater that falls in a given year.
“The rain garden catches the run-off from a house or building,” Tharp said. “Instead of running into the storm sewer or somewhere else, the water goes into the ground, which is where it needs to be.”
If people in the community are interested in having their own rain garden, and if they can get it designed and approved, the Conservation District will furnish the seed to sow it with, according to Tharp.
Rain gardens are an effective and easy way for the community to get involved with conservation and managing the land in the area.
“Once people can become more aware, they can help,” Tharp said. “This tour is agriculture-related, but it’s not just about farming. Everyone learns that they can all contribute.”
To contact the LaRue County Conservation District, call 270-358-3132.