Bee builder

Local bee expert Phillip Garrison, left, demonstrates the steps in crafting a beehive from scratch in this Jan. 2020 photo at the North Alabama Agriplex. Garrison, who’s president of the Alabama Beekeepers Association, also offered up helpful tips on how to help your startup colony of bees thrive in Cullman County’s unique ecology.

With a careful eye on maintaining social distancing, the North Alabama Agriplex is easing back into a schedule this month that, for the first time since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, will begin welcoming back on-site visitors.

Although the Agriplex’s annual Harvest to Home fundraising dinner has gone online this year, a handful of kids’ activities and learning opportunities for all ages are opening up once more at the nonprofit’s west Cullman classroom and outdoor workshop. On Sept. 12, the Farm Kids Club will investigate all things swine-y at a limited-enrollment PIGS! class for both kids ($5) and families ($10). Running from 9 a.m. until 10:30 a.m., the course will require participants to wear masks and practice safe distancing — as will all the other on-location activities the Agriplex plans to host this month.

“We are gradually opening some of our programs to in-person as we believe they can be safely socially distanced,” Agriplex director Rachel Dawsey said in a release. “We will require in-person program participants to wear masks and stay 6 feet apart at all times. Some of our classes will still be virtual.”

The Harvest to Home fundraiser went live on Sept. 4 as an online auction and locally-sourced meal box sale, and will continue to be accessible through Sept. 13. Visit the nonprofit’s website at Silent Auction at agriplex.org for more information on the silent auction, as well as the meal-in-a-box, a pre-planned Harvest to Home dinner that includes all the ingredients needed to whip up a complete dinner from locally-grown foods.

Here’s a list of the other Agriplex events planned for the month of September both online and in person:

Sept. 15 at 6 p.m. (Virtual / online only) — Pond Management Class: “The Big 5 of Pond Management: Creating great fishing and aesthetics” Free class sponsored by Merchants Bank and Cullman County Master Gardeners. Registration required.

Sept. 16 at 12 p.m. (Virtual / online only) — Lunch and Learn Raised Bed Gardening. Free class taught by Raydonna Sims. Registration required.

Sept 17 from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. (in person) – Harvest to Home Food Boxes will be ready for pickup at the Agriplex. Purchase the boxes from Sept. 4-13 by visiting www.agriplex.org.

Sept. 21 at 12 p.m.; Sept. 22 at 12 p.m. — Cullman Grown Virtual Market Open online. Contactless drive-up pickup scheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 23 from 12 p.m. until 2 p.m.

Sept. 25 from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. (in person) — Heritage Homeschool Outdoor Survival Skills at the Agriplex. Limited space class for ages 9 and up (children may be dropped off; masks and social distancing required.) Cost is $8 per child or $16 per family; sponsored by Tyson Blending of Hanceville.

The Agriplex’s Little Farmers series has been cancelled for September, as has the Learn to Sew class originally scheduled for Sept. 21. Check agriplex.org for updates on both classes as October nears.

The Agriplex is also seeking program sponsors for next year’s lineup of classes, field trips, and activities. Contact Rachel dawesy at cullmanag@gmail.com if you or your business are interested in sponsoring an event.

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