Arts can boost, diversify small-town economies

A two day training this fall will show civic leaders, artists, elected officials, entrepreneurs, business owners and others how the arts can play a role in community and economic development.

"Community Development Academy (CDA) Explores:  Arts and Economic Development", Sept. 26 through Sept. 27, in Excelsior Springs, MO, will look at the arts as a strategy for boosting and diversifying the economy in small town and rural communities, says Lee Ann Woolery, community arts specialist for MU Extension.

"Top challenges for many small communities are a struggling economy and lack of employment growth.  It has been shown that arts, culture and the humanities can help address these issues by diversifying economies, retraining the populace, creating sustainable small businesses, attracting tourism, visitors and investment ad improving quality of life,"  Woolery says.

CDA Explores will take an in-depth look at two case studies:  Lexington, MO and Ajo, AZ.  In Lexington, MU Extension and MU faculty and students collaborated with members of the 4,700 person community in western central MO to brand the town as a destination for tourists and artists.

Keynote speaker Tracy Taft, executive director of the International Sonoran Desert Alliance, will talk about how the nonprofit partnership spearheaded an arts-based community and economic development strategy for Ajo, an unincorporated former mining town near the Mexican border.  This included converting buildings in the historic downtown for affordable artisan housing, a conference facility, studios and retail space.

Sessions will look at such topics as using data to identify needs and opportunities within a community; retaining and attracting businesses; diversifying the economy; and drawing tourists through cultural heritage and the arts.  A hands-on session will look at identifying and developing assets to build on a community's existing strengths.

In addition to Taft, speakers include Woolery, MU Extension state communitity development specialist Sharon Gulick, and MU Extension regional community arts specialists GK Callahan and Lisa Overholser, who also serves as director of the St. Louis Storytelling Festival.

For more information and to register, go to http:\\extension.missouri.edu/Community Arts.

47th Missouri Governor's Conference on Agriculture

Mark your calendar!  Come one, come all to the 47th Missouri Governor's Conference on Agriculture.  Hosted by the Missouri Department of Agriculture at Tan-Tar-A Resort in Osage Beach, the conference is the place to see and be seen.  Missouri agriculturalists will gather to listen, learn, network and celebrate.  The conference will be held on December 14 through December 16, 2016.  Additional details will be forthcoming, but for now mark your calendar.

Soil testing

Don't guess.  Soil tests save time and money.  Soil testing is the best guide to the wise and efficient use of fertilizer and soil amendments, said Manjula Nathan, director of the University of Missouri Extension Soil Testing and Plant Diagnostic Services.  Whether you grow acres of row crops or have a vegetable patch in the backyard, a soil test will provide you with an analysis of nutrients and a set of recommendations for any improvements.

"We frequently get questions from customers like, 'I apply fertilizer every year. How come my plants are not doing well?" Nathan said.

"Most of the time the problem is they never have done a soil test, but have been guessing on fertilizer requirements," she said. "They do not realize that by guessing they are wasting money by over- or under application, and the excess fertilizer can end up in streams, ponds and underground water, polluting the environment."

Soil testing provides analysis of pH, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium, organic matter percent, neutralizable acidity, cation exchange capacity and nutrient requirements.  For information on test results, see MU publication G9112, Interpreting Missouri Soil Test Reports. Regional specialists also can assist you with additional information and recommendations. Soil testing can be done through the extension office. See Services for details.

Soil testing brochure (PDF)

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