Hay rides, berry tasting and Benny the Beaver. What more could you ask for?
The North Willamette Research and Extension Center (NWREC) will have those things and more at its annual open house Wednesday, July 19 from 4-7 p.m. Located at 15210 N.E. Miley Road in Aurora, NWREC uses the growing tradition as an opportunity to connect with the greater Willamette Valley area, sharing some of the research the facility conducts while having a fun time in the process.
Members of NWREC will have a number of research projects on display, but NWREC Director Mike Bondi says there's an emphasis on invasive pests this year.
"One of the big things we'll focus on will be newer invasive insect pests that have come into area in the last few years. These are brought in inadvertently, usually because people travel all around the country and world as part of commerce or accidentally in luggage," Bondi says. "There are a number that are particularly bad for our farming communities but also local homeowners as well."
Wilsonville residents might be familiar with the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug, which has become increasingly prevalent in gardens and homes in recent years. Bondi says the pests are particularly damaging to local agriculture, but that cutting edge NWREC research is working toward getting the invasive species under control.
"There's some exciting new research which was based around finding a natural enemy or biocontrol agent," Bondi says. "A parasitoid wasp was found last summer in a landscape in Portland, and they're working with it now to breed and potentially control the insect that right now is not easy or possible to control."
The Azalea Lace Bug is another invasive insect that NWREC has taken a close look at, which Bondi says has been a focus for research groups this past year. Members of NWREC will also have some new agriculture equipment to share with open house attendees, and the facility is working on getting permitting so they can fly a drone during the event.
"We'll have a display from the university on drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles as they're properly known, and how they can be used in agriculture as well as other applications," Bondi says.
Berry tasting will also be on hand, with many of the research center's special varieties of blueberries and blackberries available for the community to try, and hay wagon farm tours will be given every 45 minutes. There will be vegetables for sale from local farmers, as well as master gardeners in attendance to answer all questions that are plant related.
"If anybody has a home gardening question, home landscape question, the master gardeners are happy to answer them or even take a look at a plant if you want to try and figure out what's going on," Bondi says.
The free event will also have burgers and hot dogs for sale, provided by the Canby High School FFA, as well as berry pie. And if all that's not enough, Oregon State's Benny the Beaver mascot will be in attendance to take pictures.
"It's a fun family event, and it's a great time to be on the farm in the summertime," Bondi says. "We tell people to wear casual shoes so you can
walk around and there will be activities for kids, so it's fun for everybody. We really enjoy having the community out and the chance to connect and share what we're up to with them."