Emelda Bailey wins Garden of the Month Award: Colors and Curves

By Deb Steckler The Gettysburg Garden Club, through its Garden of the Month committee, is pleased to present the August Garden of the Month award to Emelda Bailey of 55 Park Avenue, Gettysburg, PA. August is a tough month for gardens in our area. Minimal rain results in plants drying to a crisp. Heavy and windy thunderstorms blow and pound any blooms to the ground.  When driving around the area, the Black-eyed susans are the only cheerful-looking flowers that stand out in August. So the Garden of the Month committee was pleasantly surprised to see Emelda’s Garden when driving through the area. A large row of knock-out roses colored salmon, in various shades of pink and red, worked as a solid color block against the bright pops of orange, yellow, white, and red gladiolus. Emelda and her family moved into their home two years ago. The curvy flower bed was mulched but lacked plants, except a Japanese maple anchoring the end of the driveway. There were also some green bushes in the middle and a large tree anchoring the other end that covered the entire corner of her Tudor home. Emelda decided to accentuate the curves to offset the lines of the house by lining the bed with red brick blocks. She kept the Japanese maple and removed everything else.  The first thing Emelda planted was the knock-out roses because she loves roses. However, it is costly to grow that many roses at once. I pointed out that they will continually bloom, unlike a bouquet that dies, so it is more cost-efficient in the long run. Emelda also added a few yellow variegated hostas lining the sidewalk to the front door. Additionally, she bought several bags of gladioli bulbs of varying colors and planted them.  If Emelda plants something and decides she doesn’t like the location, she digs it up and moves it to a better spot. She also has some white Asiatic lilies planted in front of the roses that offset the sea of pink, red, and orange colors. While Emelda’s Garden lacks a diversity of plant materials to write about, it makes up for this in vibrant colors and contrasting shapes that are visually appealing. I also felt that over time, more plants would start to appear. Gardening is always a work in progress, and I can’t wait to see what Emelda’s artistic eye comes up with next! To nominate your property or someone else’s for the Garden of the Month award, please call or text Deb Steckler at (717) 357-3623 or go to our website at www.gettysburggardenclub.com.

Become a Master Gardener

Interested in learning more about gardening and sharing that knowledge with others? It’s not too late to apply for the 2022-2023 Adams County Master Gardener training. The Master Gardener program began in 1990 with two master gardeners in the program, and has now grown to 65. As a Penn State Master Gardener, volunteers commit their time and knowledge to assist Penn State Extension in educating groups as well as individuals on proper horticultural practices and environmental stewardship. They are trained in horticulture by Penn State Extension educators and other master gardeners from across the region. To become a Penn State Master Gardener, one must complete just over five months of coursework that covers information on botany, plant propagation, insects and diseases, plant identification, diagnostics, native plants, and much more.  Upon completion of this course, the master gardener trainee must dedicate 50 hours of volunteer time to the master gardener program in the following year. There is a fee of $200 for the training to cover the costs of the manual, handouts, and instructors. Some of the programs and projects our master gardeners are involved in include planning and teaching workshops and seminars like the “Home Gardening Essentials” program that took place in March and “The Vegetable Patch,” which was an April program. Other programs include “Buzz, Blooms and Beyond,” an open house event on Saturday, August 6 from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. where we will focus on our pollinators in the gardens. We will have garden tours and children’s activities. The Trial and Demonstration Gardens and Native Plant Garden are open to the public at the Agricultural and Natural Resource Center. This year, master gardeners focused on three main topics: tea and herb plants; gardening for children; and pollinators.  When visiting the gardens, you may see some plants that are new to you that have a purpose for insects and humans. Master gardeners use the trial and demonstration gardens and the native plant garden as tools to teach the residents of our county and surrounding areas about horticulture, gardening, environmental gardening strategies, pollinators, and plant selection. Master gardeners are available to answer gardening questions at the Ag Center beginning in April through the end of September. They are also available year-round through email. Other opportunities include speaking opportunities to local community groups and writing garden-related articles for local and state outlets. Master gardeners also come to the Adams County Farmers Market on Saturdays where they answer gardening questions and introduce children to bees and butterflies. Master gardeners also teach kids about gardening at local camps and 4H clubs as well as in schools. In addition, the master gardeners plan a day camp, which focuses on gardening and agriculture, in June for local youth. The Community Learning Garden, also located at 670 Old Harrisburg Pike, is an opportunity for community members to do a bit of vegetable gardening that they otherwise may not be doing and learning a bit as they go. Each gardener gets a 20′ x 20′ garden to grow their choice of produce. These activities are just a snapshot of the opportunities master gardeners have to share their gardening knowledge. The next master gardener training program will be held Wednesday, September 28, 2022 through March 15, 2023 at the Agricultural and Natural Resource Center, 670 Old Harrisburg Road, Gettysburg. The classes are Wednesday evenings from 6:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. and a few Saturday afternoons from 1:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. If you are interested in becoming a Penn State Master Gardener, or just interested in learning more about the class schedule and training topics, please e-mail Mary Ann Ryan at mar35@psu.edu for an application, or call Penn State Extension, Adams County at 717-334-6271. The application and additional information will be sent to you. After we receive your completed application, an interview will be scheduled this summer, prior to the first class. Mary Ann Ryan is the Horticulture Program Coordinator for Penn State Cooperative Extension of Adams County located at 670 Old Harrisburg Road, Suite 204, Gettysburg, phone 334-6271. Monday Videos:  Visit us on Facebook at Penn State Master Gardeners in Adams County for our Master Gardeners’ Monday Videos.  Timely and relevant topics will be discussed on a weekly basis keeping readers up to date on current horticultural issues. Hotline:  The Master Gardener Hotline is open April through September, on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 10am – 2pm. Master Gardeners can take your samples on Mondays and Fridays. Please send an email (with pictures if possible) to adamsmg@psu.edu with your gardening questions, or stop by Penn State Extension, 670 Old Harrisburg Road, Gettysburg. Featured image caption: Master Gardeners have great fun sharing their gardening knowledge with others [Mary Ann Ryan]

Getting to know your yard’s microclimates

By Debby Luquette Microclimates are smaller areas with features that cause local conditions to deviate from the average.When I moved to Adams County and began a new gardening adventure, there was some information I wanted to know about what growing conditions to expect. There are several things that one can readily find out by searching the internet. Our USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map for instance, can be found online. We are zone 6b, and the lowest temperatures we can expect are between -5o to 0oF. The National Weather Service tells me that April 11 is the median date of the last spring freeze (minimum temperature, 32oF or lower), and that November 1 is the median date of the first fall freeze. Using U.S. Climate Data, I found out that Gettysburg’s average annual precipitation is 43.1 inches per year, with the months of highest rain being May, June, August, and September. This helps a gardener understand what to expect, but it’s human nature to push the limits. Some gardeners, myself included, don’t want to be constrained. We want to plant sensitive plants a few weeks earlier than recommended and try to keep them producing a week or two — or longer — after the first frost. We push the season with cold frames, row covers, and maybe even a small backyard greenhouse. But there is another trick that the season-pushing gardener can utilize — microclimates! All that information I listed above is climate data, the general conditions over a fairly large area. Microclimates are smaller areas with features that cause local conditions to deviate from the average. Consider how the temperatures in downtown Gettysburg are higher than the temperatures just a few miles outside of town. Gettysburg’s buildings, paved surfaces, and lack of trees hold heat, making the town warmer. A gardener in town has a growing season that is a few days longer than if she were gardening even five miles away. But we can find microclimates that are more localized, even within one’s backyard, in or out of town. Being a gardening nerd, I keep track of temperature with two thermometers: one in the shady front yard and one in the sunny back yard. There is a considerable difference between the two, depending on amount of sun on a particular day, how dry it is, the direction of the wind, and several other factors. I’ll bet if you spend time really looking and sensing your yard’s environment, you’ll find there is more than one microclimate in your yard, too. Most gardeners already know about the warmth of the side of a building or a rock wall. Whether it’s the buildings in town or your yard, stonework, and masonry store heat. If you’re impatient to get your tomatoes earlier or you want to grow plants adapted to a southern climate, you put your botanical treasures along a rock wall or the side of the house, a warm spot. But we also know that warm soil dries out much faster, so your special plants should be placed in soil with a lot of organic matter and mulched to hold moisture, and watered regularly in hot and/or dry weather. Shade cloth adds protection on hot, sunny days, too. Moving air is a condition that is tough on plants. During the winter many sensitive plants suffer more from desiccation than cold, and your prized specimens need some sort of shelter from the winter winds. But even in the summer a windbreak retains humidity, helping plants hold valuable moisture and keeping the ground from drying out. Check the location of shade through the gardening seasons. The sun is not in the same place now that it will be in June and shadows change position through the year, too. This year the Summer Solstice is on June 21, and from our position on earth in Adams County, PA, that’s the day the sun will rise and set in its most northerly position and will be as high in the sky as it reaches at our latitude. From now until the summer solstice, shadows move and get shorter until June 21, when they are the shortest. Then the sun starts moving lower in the sky and towards its southernmost extreme on the Winter Solstice. What this means to a gardener depends on what is being grown. The gardener needs to know where to put plants that need full sun, part shade or shade. The position of the shade and how long a spot is shady varies through the year because of this apparent movement of the sun. On April 8 the sun will be in the same position as on September 3, the Saturday of Labor Day weekend. Of course, there is less shade under trees in April, since they haven’t leafed out yet. Keep that in mind as you evaluate your yard. One of my tricks is using tall plants to create a microclimate for shorter, shade tolerant ones. To keep short, leafy plants cooler on hot days of summer, I put them in the shade of taller plants. Lettuce planted between tomatoes is a useful paring, along with short, shade-tolerant plants beneath trellised green beans. Vining squash grow well within the cover of a block of corn, where it shades the ground and holds moisture. Consider areas of your yard that are prone to frost, too. Cold air collects in low areas and can have a light frost when areas uphill are frost free. Tall plants help protect short neighbors in this situation, too. Since low areas are slow to warm in the spring and will be the first to be affected by frost, it may not be wise to put vegetables with a long maturation time in this area. Spending time getting to know all your yard’s environmental quirks can reveal gardening situations that make your specimens thrive or languish. You can make your trip to the garden center armed with information to make great choices. You can also know, within your yard’s limits, what you can do to make a particular choice work. Monday videos: Visit us on Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok at Penn State Master Gardeners in Adams County for our Master Gardeners’ Monday Videos. Timely and relevant topics will be discussed on a weekly basis keeping readers up to date on current horticultural issues. Master Gardener Hotline is open April through September, on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 10am – 2pm. Master Gardeners can take your samples on Mondays and Fridays. Please send an email (with pictures if possible) to adamsmg@psu.edu with your gardening questions, or stop by Penn State Extension, 670 Old Harrisburg Road, Gettysburg. Debby Luquette is a Penn State Master Gardener from Adams County. The Penn State Cooperative Extension of Adams County is located at 670 Old Harrisburg Road, Suite 204, Gettysburg, phone 334-6271. Featured image caption: Squash vining beneath the corn helps hold soil moisture on hot, windy days. This story was originally published here.

Phone in to Penn State Extension for free gardening advice

Master Gardener Hotline in Adams County By Pam Haze is a Penn State Master Gardener from Adams County. Like everyone else, I am awaiting warmer weather to begin gardening in earnest. I’ve learned that gardeners here in Adams County are a hardy bunch that grow bountiful flowers and vegetables despite less than optimum weather conditions and other gardening challenges. But even the most experienced gardener can use a bit of help from time to time. In your armory of tools needed for successful gardening, remember the Adams County Garden Hotline. The hotline is only a phone call, email or visit away. It is operated by a team of fifteen Penn State master gardeners who provide research-based information to help you resolve your gardening woes. The master gardeners working on the hotline can help with a wide variety of issues; in 2021, master gardeners assisted 107 homeowners to solve a wide variety of problems. The hotline is a free service to home gardeners. This year the hotline will operate three days a week – Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays –from 10 am until 2 pm through September 30. On Mondays and Fridays you can come into the Extension Office and meet with a master gardener in person (except holidays). On Wednesdays, master gardeners work from home and will respond to questions by email. If you plan to visit the Extension Center to get help in the identification of a plant, a plant disease or plant pest, please bring a fresh sample of the plant and pest. Collect the plant sample right before your visit. Bring a diseased or infested portion and some material from the same plant that is not diseased or infested, if possible.  For turf questions, please collect at least one 4” x 4” square cut out of the lawn that includes the entire plant with roots and soil. When you meet with the master gardener, you will be asked to provide your name, phone number and email and pertinent information about the plant including identity (if you know it), age, location, when you first noticed the problem (such as date of disease onset or insect infestation), cultural conditions such as sun and wind exposure, treatment such as feeding and watering, and anything you have tried to mitigate the problem. Please note that it is best if a master gardener is able to look at the sample soon after you bring it in. Refrigeration of a sample for more than a short period may impact the ability of the master gardener to diagnose the problem.  Identification of insects is easiest if you can capture the insect and bring it into the Extension Center. If you cannot, please provide a picture or pictures. Place insects in a plastic bag, jar or plastic container. Be careful not to crush or otherwise change the appearance of the specimen as that will make identification more difficult. Write down information from your observations of the insect, including whether this is a single insect or an infestation, where you found the insect, and any activity you observed. If you cannot visit during hotline hours on Mondays or Fridays from 10 am to 2 pm you can drop off your samples during office hours, Mondays through Fridays from 8 am to 4:30 pm. The master gardener on the next Monday or Friday will look at the sample. You can email your questions any time; emails sent outside of hotline hours will be addressed by a master gardener during the next hotline shift. Please include in your email a picture of the plant, insect or problem you are asking about and include as much information as possible to help with identification and diagnosis. Penn State Cooperative Extension of Adams County is located at 670 Old Harrisburg Road, Suite 204, Gettysburg, phone 334-6271. Monday Videos: Visit us on Facebook at Penn State Master Gardeners in Adams County for our Master Gardeners’ Monday Videos.  Timely and relevant topics will be discussed on a weekly basis keeping readers up to date on current horticultural issues. Hotline: The Master Gardener Hotline is open April through September, on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 10am – 2pm. Master Gardeners can take your samples on Mondays and Fridays. Please send an email (with pictures if possible) to adamsmg@psu.edu with your gardening questions, or stop by Penn State Extension, 670 Old Harrisburg Road, Gettysburg. Featured Image: Master Gardener Joan Horak examining plant material [Lydia Hecker]

Adams moves forward on plans to increase internet speeds

man operating laptop on top of table

Adams county has partnered with Franklin and Cumberland counties to commission a large-scale high-speed internet access (“broadband”) feasibility study.   The need is critical as a recent state report said 28 percent of households in Adams County had unacceptably slow internet connection speeds, and that rural counties were particularly hard hit. Adams County Board of Commissioners President Randy Phiel said the inter-county cooperation would save money. “I’m happy we were able to get 3 counties to come together. It’s a good thing,” he said. Commissioner Jim Martin said Adams got into the broadband game early. “I hope it continues to do well. We’re going this way because no private corporation has stepped in,” he said. Commissioner Marty Qually said millions of dollars were being directed into broadband across the country and that there were plenty of opportunities coming forward for state funding. “This is a good step forward. We don’t want to be behind.” Qually said they county had received 5 bids for executing the study, which would define the nature of internet problems and propose solutions” Qually said the bids are in the $100,000—$200,000 range and will be funded by American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding.  Adams will only pay 1/3 of the cost. Phiel said the proposals would be carefully reviewed and the county did not have to go with the lowest bid. Qually said the study, which might take up to six months to complete, would consider the cost/benefit ratios of using different technologies to increase internet access speeds. “This will differ on where someone is in the county,” he said. County Solicitor Molly Mudd said the slow internet speeds affected the county’s productivity and that a goal was to deliver to businesses and individuals what they need to get work done. Commissioners from the three counties will meet to review the proposals and pick one of the five proposed bids.  “Without the study we can’t apply for the actual cost of doing any work. We have to show a need,” said Qually.

Learn to Garden at the Ag Center

As the weather warms it’s time again for Horticultural Program Coordinator Mary Ann Ryan and her consumer horticulture team at the Penn State Extension Building at 670 Old Harrisburg Rd. in Gettysburg to help people learn to garden. The extension service programs include courses, workshops and a wide variety of demonstration gardens on the building site, aimed at both adults and children. Interested people can drop by for information about the programs. “The gardens teach people how to garden,” said Ryan.  “They’re just getting going this year.” Ryan said some themes for this year’s gardens included “Wellness in the Garden” and “Bugs, Blooms, and Beyond.” This year’s gardens include a pollinator garden to attract bees and butterflies; a holistic herb garden; a tea garden; a youth garden; a pizza garden; a garden in miniature; and a sensory garden. The demonstration gardens are tended by a team of about 20 Master Gardeners, each of whom has completed a six-month training program that prepares them to teach at the extension program. “I wanted to do something different,” said Master Gardener Ben Smith as he displayed the various looks, smells, and healthy aspects of this tea garden. His plantings included stevia, marjoram, lemon balm, chamomile, and holy basil. Behind the demonstration garden are the eighteen 20 ft. x 20 ft. plots of the Vegetable Learning Garden where people can try their hand at growing flowers and vegetables under the watchful and helpful eyes of the master gardeners. Church groups, SCCAP volunteers, and a family of Afghan refugees are some of the current users.  Ryan said the gardens were designed to give people ideas.  “Gardening is creative, simple, useful, and inexpensive,” she said. Research is another major mission of the extension office and the program continually runs test trials and butterfly counting studies. “There are always changes in the garden and the team is always monitoring them,” said Ryan. Ryan said a major recent change in the teaching curriculum is an emphasis on more sustainable gardening. “We’re changing how people grow; letting things grow wild,” she said. A focus is on using native plants that take less irrigation and require less maintenance. Featured image caption: Smith and Ryan

Gettysburg Garden Club Brightens the Square

Several dozen members of the Gettysburg Garden Club, dressed in bright pink t-shirts, braved traffic to get onto the circle in the center of the Gettysburg Square early this morning, where they planted over 600 decorative summer annuals. Gettysburg Mayor Rita Frealing stopped by to give encouragement and enjoy the colorful displays. Civic Development Committee Coordinator Pat Thorsen said the club and been in charge of decorating the square since 1967, shortly after the club was founded in 1965. The club has also been in charge of the downtown hanging flower baskets as well as those at the firehouse since 2008. The club said borough staff would water the plants during the summer months. The planting is funded in part by donations from the Giving Spree and Musselman Greenhouses in Orrtanna, as well as by the fundraising activities of the club. The next opportunity to help out the club, and get some plants for your own yard, is the Annual Spring Perennial Sale which will be this Saturday, May 21, 8:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. while supplies last, at the Gettysburg Firehouse, 35 North Stratton Street.

Gettysburg Garden Club Annual Spring Perennial Sale

The Gettysburg Garden Club will hold its Annual Spring Perennial Sale on Saturday, May 21, 8:00 am – 2:00 pm while supplies last at the Gettysburg Firehouse, 35 North Stratton Street. Come early and have your choice of great finds. This year, we have an array of interesting plants, including turtlehead, herbs, Mexican Sunflower (a special annual), coreopsis, hyssop, lupine, wild ginger, bee balm, foxglove firecracker loosestrife, and penstemon. Returning are some popular selections: coneflower, black-eyed Susan, hostas, ferns, bleeding hearts, lamb’s ear, iris, daylilies, baby redbud trees, and many others.  We accept checks and cash. The Gettysburg Garden Club, founded in 1960, promotes interest in all facets of gardening. The club is a nonprofit organization affiliated with the Garden Club Federation of Pennsylvania and National Garden Clubs, Inc.

Spring Bulbs and Perennials Make Perfect Companions

By Carolyn Black April is one of my favorite months of the year. The days become longer, the temperatures are typically in the 60’s and 70’s, and we are blessed with April showers. The birds serenade one another, and the peepers provide a chorus of chirping to welcome spring. After seeing the whites, grays, and browns of the winter months, a masterpiece of color is displayed in April. Spring bulbs and perennials combination All the hard work of planting spring bulbs in the fall will come to fruition when the beautiful colors of daffodils, hyacinths, allium, crocus, dwarf iris, grape hyacinths, and tulips make their appearance. Narcissus is a genus of predominantly spring flowering perennial plants of the Amaryllis family, Amaryllidaceae. Various common names including daffodil, narcissus, and jonquil are used to describe members of this genus. Daffodils are a popular spring bulb that has many varieties and are easy to grow. A legend about daffodils flows from the famous Greek mythology about a handsome youth named Narcissus. Once, while Narcissus was hunting in the woods, a wood nymph named Echo saw him from her hiding place behind a tree. He was so handsome, and she fell desperately in love with him.  Unfortunately, Narcissus refused the advances of Echo. The lovely nymph, heartbroken, wastes away and dies with only her voice remaining to echo her plight. The goddess, Nemesis, heard about poor Echo and lured Narcissus to a shimmering lake. In his vain state, Narcissus was unable to resist gazing at his own reflection, and fell in love with himself. As he gazed, his divine penalty took effect, and he simply faded away. In his place sprung up the golden flower that bears his name today. Because of the wide variety of spring bulbs, a greater impact is attained if the bulbs are planted in groups of the same variety. Different varieties of tulips bloom in early spring, mid spring, and late spring and therefore make a lovely succession of blooms. When creating a mix of flower bulbs, freely experiment with color combinations. As the green foliage of the spring bulb plants begin to turn yellow, it is very important not to snip the stems and leaves until they die back naturally, which can take several weeks. The yellowing leaves are a signal that the plant is going dormant for the summer. Flowering bulbs need their leaves to photosynthesize and make food after they finish blooming. The bulbs must store enough food to not just get them through the remainder of the year, but also to set new buds for the following spring. Spring herbaceous perennials planted among your bulbs help create an attractive diversion by hiding the dying bulb foliage with fresh growth.  Not only is April a great month to enjoy spring bulbs, it is also an appropriate month to plant hardy, spring-blooming perennials. The best selection will be found in greenhouses and nurseries in April. To obtain the best result when combining spring bulbs and perennials, consider each plant’s color, bloom season, and height to find plants that complement one another. Remember that all the plants won’t be in bloom at the same time, though some may overlap, so keep in mind how foliage of the various plants will look together. Also, harmonize the bulbs and perennials with consideration to their sunlight and water requirements. Two of my favorite spring perennials, Hellebores (Helleborus) and Brunnera (Brunnera macrophylla), partner very well with spring bulbs.  They both prefer part shade. The foliage of the Brunnera is exquisite and Hellebores have evergreen foliage and a variety of early and mid-spring blooms from which one can choose. Other springtime herbaceous perennials to consider are Dianthus (Dianthus), Columbine (Aquilegia), Bleeding hearts (Dicentra spectabilis), Creeping Phlox (Phlox subulate), Penstemon ‘Husker Red’ (Penstemon) and English Daisy (Bellis perennis). Summer perennials with beautiful texture and foliage will complement the spring plantings even though their flower bloom has not appeared yet. Coral Bells (Heuchera) have a vast variety of blooms and foliage which complement spring and summer bulbs. Some native summer perennials to consider are Yarrow (Archillea millefolium), Bee Balm (Monarda), and Coreopsis (Coreopis).  Personalize your garden by choosing spring bulbs and perennials with bloom colors, leaf variations, and fragrances that you enjoy. Every garden is unique to its owner. Enjoy creating a spring landscape of beauty that you and others will appreciate and look forward to each year. Upcoming Workshop – ‘Wellness in the Garden’  Join us from 11 – 2 on Saturday, May 21 for yoga, qigong, plants for wellness, tea tasting, light refreshments, and a garden tour. Visit the Workshop website  for more information and to register. Monday videos: Visit us on Facebook, Instagram and TikTok at Penn State Master Gardeners in Adams County for our Master Gardeners’ Monday Videos. Timely and relevant topics will be discussed on a weekly basis keeping readers up to date on current horticultural issues. Master Gardener Hotline is open April through September, on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 10am – 2pm. Master Gardeners can take your samples on Mondays and Fridays. Please send an email (with pictures if possible) to adamsmg@psu.edu with your gardening questions, or stop by Penn State Extension, 670 Old Harrisburg Road, Gettysburg. Carolyn Black is a Penn State Master Gardener from Adams County. The Penn State Cooperative Extension of Adams County is located at 670 Old Harrisburg Road, Suite 204, Gettysburg, phone 334-6271.

Local inventor creates fruit clipping device, the “Stem Punk”

After a college experience studying religion and poetry, becoming an inventor was not a career path Leighton Rice expected to follow.  But after joining other members of his family at Rice Fruit Company as the quality manager, Rice found a way to make a novel contribution. “Farmers are innovators by necessity. You’re always trying to find clever workarounds,” said Rice. His invention, now patent pending, is called the “Stem Punk,” a lever-operated machine worn by apple pickers that allows them to tightly clip the apple stem while using only one hand. “We have a problem in our industry where long stems on one apple will puncture another apple in the bin,” said Rice. “Almost 8 percent of the apples get punctured and they have to go to juice.” Rice said it is becoming more common for pickers to use hand clippers to cut the stem below the shoulder so it can’t puncture.  “But the downside of that is that it’s a lot slower because you have to use two hands,” he said. The Stem Punk connects to straps on the picking bag, allowing the picker to work with only one hand by holding the apple in place and activating the cutter with the wrist. “I’m the quality assurance guy here.  I’d see this damage to the fruit. We’d make the official recommendation to the growers but they didn’t always do it. I knew there had to be a better way,” said Rice.  Rice collaborated with product developer Chris Toner over the past five years to create the Stem Punk, bring the invention into use, and create a new business called Rice Systems. When the machine was ready the invention was entered into the 2022 American Farm Bureau Ag Innovation Challenge. Rice was honored as a semi-finalist with $15,000 in prize money at January’s awards presentation in Atlanta. Noting the similarity to the science fiction genre “Steampunk,” Rice said Stem Punk is a play on words on “stem” and “puncture.”  “It’s the punk that solves the punctures,” he said. Rice said although many of the the other winners at the innovation challenge were focused on robotics, the Stem Punk is low tech. “It’s kind of a scaled-up nail clipper that uses levers to bring two cone-shaped blades together.” “Growers want low-tech more than robotics.  Machines are great when they work, but they’re expensive and only work about half the time,” he said. Rice said the business was off to a good start, with demonstration models already being used in the U.S., New Zealand, and Chile. See more photos and a video of the device at Stem Punk’s website. Featured image caption: Rice (left) and Toner with stem punks.

Garden Club goes green for Saturday’s sale

Dozens of members of the Gettysburg Garden Club are working this week in the firehouse on Stratton St. to create swatches, wreaths, and a wide variety of other decorations for their Annual Greens Sale. The work is specialized, and new members are trained by the more experienced. “We have specialists that teach specialists,” said club president Donna Almquist. The workers were all women on Wednesday morning, but there are also several men who belong to the club, including Adams County Council-member Marty Qually, who helped the group place tarps over the floor before the work began on Monday. “It’s a marathon week. The members are very ambitious, organized, and skilled,” said club member Patricia Green. The members collect the greens from local farms and bring them to the firehouse where they are trimmed and formed into the finished products, using fine handiwork and the help of three wreath-making machines. Proceeds from the sale are used to benefit the club’s activities of decorating the Gettysburg Square and funding its scholarship program. The club maintains eight planters in the square and plants hundreds of tulip bulbs there every year. They also decorate the firehouse grounds. Although they are working hard, there is plenty of time for socializing. “I really like the camaraderie,” said group member Maryan Daniels. “It doesn’t take long to feel part of this group.” The garden club holds weekly meetings at 1:00 p.m. on the last Thursday of each month where they host speakers from around the country. The club welcomes members who are interested in horticulture, gardening, and community spirit. “We’re looking for a younger demographic,” said Green.

Gettysburg Garden Club Annual Christmas Greens and Gourmet Gifts Sale Coming Soon

The Gettysburg Garden Club’s annual Christmas Greens and Gourmet Gifts Sale is on Saturday, December 4 from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., or until sold out, at the Gettysburg Fire Hall, 35 North Stratton Street. Proceeds benefit the Lincoln Square Flower Gardens and scholarships for Adams County students majoring in horticulture-related fields. The widely anticipated sale is receiving even greater interest because of COVID-19 cancellations last year. The community can expect the same range of handcrafted arrangements created by our master gardeners and other members whose love for gardening reflects through every element of creativity. We will have wreaths, swags, candle and table arrangements, and other small arrangements. We use natural greens from the yards and farms of club members and community members in our decorations. In addition, our delicious gourmet selections for humans and dogs and cats are returning with the same taste that customers enjoy each year. Supply chain challenges owed to COVID-19 are showing price increases and lower availability of some Christmas decorations. However, you can expect the same quality from the Gettysburg Garden Club, as in previous years, and with no price increase. Could you please spread the word that we’re back? We accept cash and checks and suggest arriving early and browsing through our wide range of selections. Please contact Joan Horak, 717-357-5615, or visit the Gettysburg Garden Club Facebook page for additional details. Since we are still in a high incidence of COVID-19, we respectfully request that our patrons wear masks to the sale to keep our members and community safe. The club needs freshly cut greens to make wreaths, arrangements, and tabletop trees. The following types of evergreens are needed: Frazier fir, juniper, Leyland cypress, cedars, yews, arborvitae, holly, southern magnolia, white pine, boxwood, and blue spruce. Holly and magnolia need to be kept in water. Please cut the greens November 26-28 and deliver to the fire hall on Sunday, November 28 or Monday, November 30 from 9 am to 3 pm or call Joan Horak at 717-357-5615 for pickup. The Gettysburg Garden Club is a 501(c) (3) organization affiliated with the Garden Club Federation of Pennsylvania and National Garden Clubs, Inc.

Destination Weddings Abound in Adams

Adams County is a popular destination for wedding ceremonies, largely due to its widespread appeal for many different audiences. View our complete list of Destination Wedding Venues A wedding at Hauser Hill Event Center [Lindsey Ford] “Adams County is built for tourism, so we are fully equipped for people to come from all over the place to explore the battlefields, the history of the town, and our robust agribusiness,” said Round Barn Events LLC Manager Jessica Knouse. “We not only have venues on the more traditional spectrum, but we also have unpretentious, newer, outdoor options. There’s something for everyone.” For couples seeking to host their wedding at an upscale, indoor location, the Federal Pointe Inn and the Gettysburg Hotel are two possible options. The Federal Pointe Inn, a location that has been open for nearly ten years, hosts approximately twenty wedding groups each year, with many couples choosing to spend their honeymoon at the boutique hotel. According to Owner Pete Monahan, “We’re historic, unique, and upscale. One of our amenities is a pub that our wedding groups can use before and after the wedding so they don’t have to leave the hotel. We also offer tea and scones every afternoon and our rooms are larger than most hotels.” Another prominent feature of the Federal Pointe Inn is that it offers historic areas for wedding groups to take pictures. “It photographs really well,” said Monahan. “We just had a wedding where we hung the bride’s dress from a chandelier and the photographer took a picture. The chandelier made a beautiful shot.” At the Gettysburg Hotel, couples also appreciate the unique and historic indoor space to host their weddings. View our complete list of Destination Wedding Venues “In 2000, we acquired our Grand Ballroom space, which was originally the Gettysburg National Bank and was still operating as a PNC Bank at the time,” shared Catering & Events Manager Megan Wherley. “The space was transformed into our beautiful ballroom, keeping the iconic, historic elements, including the original hand-painted and gold inlaid 28-foot ceiling with a Grecian border, as well at the impressive and formidable bank vault.” Additionally, the Gettysburg Hotel offers amenities that are popular with their wedding guests. Wherley said, “One of the biggest benefits to our couples is that we do all of their personal decorating for them. All they need to do is bring the decorations to the hotel before the wedding, then we go through it all and set up everything.” When the couple returns before the wedding, “they get a grand reveal of the space, seeing the ballroom for the first time with flowers in place, candles lit, and champagne poured, ready for guests to enter and be amazed,” said Wherley. At the end of the night, the Gettysburg Hotel staff takes the decorations down as well, allowing couples to pick up their decor in the morning. “Our venue is really a one-stop location,” said Wherley. “We provide all catering, alcohol, guestrooms, tables, chairs, linens, napkins, house centerpieces, setup and teardown and even the wedding cake. We have an extensive preferred vendor list who can provide any services that we do not offer in house. Beyond that, we have guestrooms on site, a Starbucks, and our award-winning restaurant, One Lincoln. Our goal is to provide a stress-free wedding planning experience.” For those couples who prefer scenic outdoor locations with indoor options, the Historic Round Barn, Hauser Hill Event Center, and Gettysburg National Military Park are three of the many picturesque locations in Adams County. The Historic Round Barn began hosting wedding events in 2007 for family members associated with the barn. It has since hosted nearly 200 weddings and strives to maintain the original family-oriented concept. Manager Jessica Knouse said, “There’s a lot of flexibility because we’re family owned. We do one wedding per weekend, so we are very focused on one couple. We don’t rush people on setting up or tearing down. They can have any vendors they prefer because we don’t have restrictions on vendors.” Knouse believes that guests typically choose their location for weddings because “they want to get married, but they don’t want to be in a banquet room; they want a more homey and comfortable feel. Our venue is unpretentious, uninhibited, and laid back. We’re on a farm so people can drive right up and unload.” Additionally, she shared that “One of the biggest selling points is that we have a huge inventory of decorations that people can use at no additional cost so that they don’t have to buy decorations they’ll never use again.” Another scenic outdoor venue is the Hauser Hill Event Center. It began as the Hauser Estate Winery which hosted weddings but remained open to the public. It has since rebranded to the Hauser Hill Event Center and is only open for weddings and private events. View our complete list of Destination Wedding Venues “It is such a beautiful property for weddings with stunning views in every direction,” said Event Coordinator Mindi Wood. “If they want an outdoor ceremony, we have a deck and a terrace for outdoor seating. Using tents, people can also enjoy the gorgeous views and be outside for the reception.” Wood, a former wedding photographer with 25 years of photography experience and 30 years of wedding planning experience, has an eye for detail that she believes is helpful for events. “It is important to me that every detail is carried out and that the day goes smoothly. I care about people and I want them to just enjoy the day and not have to worry about anything,” said Wood. “Hauser Hill is so beautifully decorated inside and outside that the couples really do not need to do much except show up, and that is my goal,” said Wood. “We also are very flexible with the table arrangement, times for the events, and we are handicap accessible and dog friendly.” Finally, couples who are interested in hosting their wedding at the Gettysburg National Military Park are able to do so at the park’s amphitheater on West Confederate Avenue. The location has a seating capacity of approximately 50 people on benches. However, couples may bring additional seating for larger crowds. “People can use that area via a Special Park Use permit which can be found through the park’s website,” said Special Permit Coordinator Pam Neil. Neil also noted that “there are living history encampments in the wooded area adjacent to the amphitheater itself on the weekends.” For those interested in the history of Gettysburg, Neil believes “the soldiers would certainly make an interesting backdrop.” Because Adams County is home to many different wedding venues, there are options available to all couples, whether they wish to be married under the 1920’s chandeliers at the Federal Pointe Inn, under the stars at the Hauser Hill Event Center, or anything else in between. View our complete list of Destination Wedding Venues “Adams County is the perfect wedding destination because there’s something for everyone,” said Wherley. “Foodies will find lots of unique dining options. Historians can enjoy the battlefields, museums, downtown walking tours and period shops. Nature lovers can hike the trails with plenty to explore.”

Virtual Community Garden Workshop Scheduled for March 20

Join Healthy Franklin County for a FREE Virtual Community Garden Workshop on March 20 that will focus on “Creating Your Own Working Homestead.” There will be a variety of workshops centered around the theme of homesteading that explore foodscaping, foraging, how to build an herb spiral, and more. A keynote presentation by Jessy Varisano, owner of Foot of the Mountain Farms, will show one local farmer’s journey toward creating their own working homestead. Register by March 18th to reserve your virtual spot for the workshop in the link below:https://www.wellspan.org/events/details/Community-Garden-Workshop—VIRTUAL/2967For questions, please email npurdy@wellspan.org.