Discovery Park of America Moves Closer to Million-Dollar Goal for New Ag Innovation Exhibit

Discovery Park of America – located in Union City, Tennessee – has announced new partners and more details for “AgriCulture: Innovating for Our Survival,” a permanent exhibit dedicated to telling the story of innovation in agriculture.

The exhibit will open Dec. 5, 2020, in the Simmons Bank Ag Center. The total amount of funds raised for this exhibit so far is $935,000.

New organizations working with Discovery Park on the exhibit include Agrela Ecosystems, Babylon Micro-Farms, Bayer Fund, Blue Steel Tool, Inc., Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, EarthSense, GroGuru, SwineTech, Syngenta, Tennessee Pork Producers, Tennessee Valley Authority and the USDA Rural Development U.S. Department of Agriculture.

More than 50 individuals have also signed up as a “Champion of Agriculture” which allows them to include their name or that of a friend or loved one on the donor wall of the exhibit. Champions of Agriculture will also receive two tickets to the VIP opening of the exhibit. The deadline to be included is Sept 30, 2020, and contributions may be made online.

The exhibit will help visitors of all ages gain an understanding of how food and fiber get from the farm to the family and the role technological, scientific and genetic innovation in agriculture plays in society and culture around the world.

“This exhibit is also going to be fun,” said Scott Williams, president and CEO of Discovery Park. “I am excited we are able to include some video and equipment from eighth-generation watermelon farmer and professional NASCAR driver Ross Chastain, the busiest driver in NASCAR, who uses much of his time in the spotlight to educate the public about the important role of agriculture today.”

Nicknamed the “Melon Man,” Chastain is known for smashing a watermelon to the ground in the Victory Lane when he celebrates race wins. He drives for Kaulig Racing in the No. 10 Nutrien Ag Solutions Chevrolet Camaro in the Xfinity Series. He’s featured in the Nutrien Ag Solutions- and NASCAR-produced docuseries “Two-Track Mind,” which follows Chastain as he races around the country and visits farms along the way, educating a broader audience about modern production agriculture.

Included in the exhibit will be the stories of individuals, like Dr. Nadia Shakoor, who are leaders in the field of agriculture innovation. As a senior research scientist at The Donald Danforth Plant Science Center in St. Louis, she recently received a grant from The National Institute for Food and Agriculture and the National Science Foundation to develop FieldDock, an integrated smart farm system. The technology Shakoor and her collaborators are developing will collect and analyze real time data from fields, allowing for effective tracking of crop performance.

Also on display will be the story of Babylon Micro-Farms, who invented a vertical farming platform that uses AI, machine learning and camera vision, enabling anyone to grow fresh, nutritious produce on-site using patented technology combined with a mobile app that controls the operation of the farms.

The company was co-founded in 2017 by University of Virginia students Alexander Olesen and Graham Smith after an undergraduate student project to develop low-cost micro-farms for refugee communities. Babylon is now installing vertical farms at schools, senior living communities, hotels and resorts.

In addition to a closer look at how farmers provide food, fuel and fiber today, sections of the exhibit include “What Makes a Farm a Farm,” “Who is a Farmer Today” and “How Innovation Yesterday and Today Will Lead to Our Survival Tomorrow.” Guests who visit the exhibit when it opens on Dec. 5, 2020, will also experience stories about a diverse and inclusive group of individuals working in agriculture today along with visually engaging experiences that separate farming fact from fiction.

Major sponsors of this exhibit are Nutrien Ag Solutions and Simmons Bank.

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