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Folks from Molalla, Canby and all over the area descend on the NWREC open house Wednesday

There were stained hands and satisfied smiles all around as visitors to Wednesday's OSU Extension open house at the Aurora facility.

It's not as though people from Canby, Molalla, Aurora and points in-between were trying to get stained fingers, it's simply that with so many varieties of blueberries and blackberries to sample, stains and smiles were inevitable.

The annual open house provides visitors with a first-hand look at the agricultural experiment station's work with crops grown in Oregon and the food we often eat. The 160-acre farm offers plenty to see and do during the open house. It's something visitors to the event find fascinating.

"This is my second year coming and I love it," said Chareese Clemons, who along with her husband Roger, have a small family farm just outside Canby. "I read about it in the paper (Pioneer) last year and came and loved the dried fruits, the exhibits and, of course, tasting the berries. I always end up buying some produce as well."

Oh, those berries. Multiple crates of blueberries and blackberries, many different varieties, were on hand for visitors to taste and ask questions about. And that's a big part of what the open house is about, seeing what's new in agriculture and asking questions.

JOHN BAKER - Tasting new varieities of blueberries and blackberries is always a highlight at the open house.

"I can just stand here and pop on after another in my mouth," said Shirley Culver. She and her husband Phil live on a few acres outside Molalla and have been repeat visitors to the open house over the years. "We grow a couple varieties of berries, so I'm a berry lover and this is just my favorite thing. Look at how big and plump some of these are. And so filled with flavor."

Folks came from all over, including Molalla and surrounding area.

"The NWREC Open House was a great event. We had a huge crowd, just over 300. One of our biggest ever for this annual event," said Mike Boni, director. "We really appreciate the interest of the community to come out to the Center to learn about the latest science of agriculture. One observation we noted was the interest in industrial hemp and the new OSU Global Hemp Innovation Center. We had a number of growers and others interested in this crop from all around the valley asking a lot of questions."

The 160-acre farm showcases the staff's work in greenhouse and nursery crops, berries, vegetable production, Christmas trees, hazelnuts, nursery and greenhouse production, pest management, and small scale farming.

This year, visitors could see what OSU students are up to, including work with pest control, how drones are helping map and locate crop issues, as well as canning and drying processes for fruits and vegetables.


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