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Master Gardener regional conference held locally
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Warren County was home to the Tennessee Extension Master Gardener Central Region Conference on Thursday. Twelve counties are included in the central region. Also in attendance were Greene County master gardeners. Pictured, from left, are Ron Davis, Wendy Sykora, Mary Goldman, Joe Brown, Michele Bradley and Darlene Moore.

Warren County was home to the Tennessee Extension Master Gardener Central Region Conference on Thursday. 

“We were asked to host this year’s event,” said Warren County Master Gardener president Dale McDaniel. “What a wonderful opportunity for Warren County, McMinnville particularly, to be recognized. Everybody knows we are the Nursery Capital of the World, but that doesn’t mean anything to people. When people come into Warren County, that’s when they understand what it means. Events like these are great PR for us.”

There are 12 counties in the Central Region and most of those were represented at the day-long event which included a “virtual morning” with Zoom meetings from 7:30 to 11 a.m. Those meetings included coffee hour, morning welcome, controlling disease in ornamental plants, sustainable landscapes, and an introduction into TN smart yards. 

“The smart yards presentation was my favorite so far,” said master gardener Michele Bradley, from Green County. “It was very informative.”

Among her group was Greene County master gardener Ron Davis, who explained Greene County is actually in Tennessee Extension’s East Tennessee Region.

“We like to show our support for each other’s regions, so we attend as many events as we can,” said Davis.  

At 12 p.m., the group of approximately 80 met at Riverfront Park’s pavilion for an in-person lunch. At that time, several drawings were made for door prizes. Taking the top prize was Cindy Padgett, whose number was drawn for a Smooth Rapids trip for two worth $100. 

Recognized during the luncheon were local master gardeners Wally and Pat Bigbee. The couple received Lifetime Tennessee Extension awards for being 20-year members of Warren County Master Gardeners.

“They should have received this in 2020, but we all know that didn’t happen,” said McDaniel. “That year was a tough year for all organizations, including the master gardeners groups. However, we made it through and here enjoying this beautiful day together.” 

Wally offered a presentation about the Barren Fork Greenway. It runs along the Barren Fork River and connects Riverfront Park to Pepper Branch Park. The loop was constructed by the city of McMinnville with advisory assistance from the Greenway Council. A grant from the Tennessee Department of Transportation helped fund the endeavor.

“Master gardeners have been very active in planting blooming trees and shrubs and maintaining the greenway, as well as beautifying by putting down mulch and trimming grass and weeds,” said Wally. 

The Central Region Conference group was treated to afternoon tours of local nurseries, including Vaughn Nursery, Boyd and Boyd Nursery, Daylily Nursery, and Tommy Savage Nursery, to complete the day-long event.