The Nebraska SARE Program and Nebraska Extension are sponsoring a tour on August 4th  that focuses on local food production, sustainability and value-added ag enterprises. This tour will be an opportunity to learn more about local food production, sustainability and entrepreneurship in Nebraska.  On this tour, you will have the opportunity to visit five entrepreneurial enterprises where you will see very diverse operations. The tour will depart from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln East Campus in an air conditioned coach bus at 7:30 a.m. on August 4th.  Anyone is welcome to participate in this tour.

Our first stop on the tour is Kimmel Orchard & the Kimmel Education and Research Center in Nebraska City. To learn more about these places go to: http://www.kimmelorchard.org/ and http://extension.unl.edu/statewide/kimmel/.

Kimmel Orchard

Our second stop of the tour will be Garden of Ellen’s, just a short distance north of Kimmel Orchard off of Highway 75. Ellen Shank and her husband Jim have both retired from long careers and undertook a second career of raising and marketing produce from high tunnels and the garden on their farm in 2011.  The Shanks market at area farmers markets and from their farm.

Union Orchard UNL

We will then travel to Union Orchard. Union Orchard formerly was owned and operated by the University of Nebraska.  There we will see how the Wostrel Family and orchard manager Vaughn Hammond are developing the orchard and transforming it into a destination for families to come and visit year round.  Union Orchard has planted new crops and several acres of fruit trees, especially apple trees.  Some of the crops they are growing include asparagus, rhubarb, strawberries, apples, grapes and pumpkins.  They also have a corn maze for the fall harvest season.  Some of these crops are sold as a U-Pick business, while other produce is picked and sold fresh or made into a value-added products, like pies, donuts, jams and jellies or even wine.  We plan on eating lunch at the orchard, although the menu has not been determined at this time.  You can find out more about Union Orchard on my blog; https://saremansagnews.wordpress.com/2016/06/16/union-orchard/ or on their website:  http://www.unionorchard.com/.


Following our time at Union Orchard, we will go up Highway 75 a few miles to Plattsmouth and visit Nebraska Hop Yards. This is Nebraska’s newest value added ag enterprise, owned by Annette and Bruce Wiles that has caught a lot of interest from people.  There we will learn about how this enterprise came about, how it was developed  and what the plans are for it. Here are a couple of links where you can find out more about this operation; http://www.neded.org/news/645-august-2015/1800-state-s-largest-hop-yards-and%20-first-processing-facility-opens and http://midwesthopproducers.com/.

The final stop of the day will be Lakehouse Farm and Prairie Plate Restaurant near Waverly, Nebraska. Renee and Jerry Cornett have begun this farm a few years ago and opened a restaurant out on the farm.  We will enjoy a cool drink and light snack there as well.  The Cornetts grow much of their own produce for the restaurant in a high tunnel and outside garden and purchase local food from area farmers as well.  Here is a link to their website; http://lakehousefarm.com/prairie-plate-restaurant/.

I am looking forward to the tour next week. Cost of the tour is $25 and includes, transportation, lunch and a late afternoon snack. Please register by either emailing me at glesoing2@unl.edu or calling my office at (402) 274-4755 by Monday, August 1st so we can make arrangements for the food and handouts. Please let me know if I need to get you a parking permit for your vehicle at the UNL East Campus.