N.C. Museum of History, Syngenta showcase state's rich ag heritage
What began as a few outdoor garden beds showcasing North Carolina's agricultural legacy will soon blossom into a living, thriving exhibit at the N.C. Museum of History in Raleigh. The museum is partnering with Syngenta, located in Research Triangle Park and Greensboro, to make the exhibit grow.
A "first" for the museum, the chronological exhibit "History of the Harvest" will connect the state's agricultural past with today's cutting-edge research and development by universities and companies such as Syngenta. This block-long exhibit will flourish in planting beds along Bicentennial Plaza, a well-traveled walkway between the State Capitol and the State Legislative Building.
"History of the Harvest" will serve as an outdoor classroom that gives visitors and passers-by a hands-on opportunity to learn firsthand about North Carolina agriculture, from medicinal plants grown by American Indians before European contact to new corn hybrids developed by using advanced plant-breeding technology.
Syngenta's $15,000 sponsorship provides funding support and helps the museum bring the history of the state's agriculture from the past to the present. Syngenta Flowers also provided flowers and Fafard potting mix to the exhibit — and as a result, nearly 1,000 flowers will brighten the museum's entranceway.
"The museum's focus is historical, looking back at how people have interacted with the environment," said Emily Grant, youth programs coordinator at the Museum of History. "Our partnership with Syngenta helps bring that story to the present by looking at current trends and practices in the field of agriculture. Syngenta's contributions to agricultural research and development are making history around the world."
Visitors to "History of the Harvest" will also learn about agricultural-related contributions to the state's economy, how North Carolinians have used plants, and the global issues of hunger and sustainable agriculture.
"Syngenta values the opportunity to not only educate museum visitors on the rich agricultural foundation of North Carolina, but also to share the research and development conducted within the state," said Michiel van Lookeren Campagne, president of Syngenta Biotechnology. "North Carolina has always flourished as a leader in research and development, and it continues to pave the way for future innovations in agriculture. Working with the museum on this exhibit allows us to illustrate this evolution — where we've been, where we are now, and where our innovations can take us in the future."
History of the Harvest is presented in six sections with distinct planting beds. Large informational signs will guide visitors as they walk along Bicentennial Plaza.
- "Nature's Gardens" and "Gardens of Life and Health," the first two sections, focus on medicinal and culinary plants that were indigenous to the state or introduced by settlers. This section includes plants such as sassafras, rivercane, rosemary and rue.
- "Early Agriculture" centers on the "three sisters" companion planting arrangement traditionally used by American Indians in North Carolina. Corn, beans and squash, the "three sisters," were grown together because the plants benefit each other.
- "Changing Landscapes" features tobacco and cotton, which have a history as cash crops in the Tar Heel State. Today, North Carolina leads the nation in sweet potato production. Sweet potatoes, peanuts and sorghum grow in this section as well.
- "From Field to Lab" highlights biotechnology and how North Carolina's agriculture has become a complex web of agribusinesses competing on a world market. Visitors can compare the water-optimized Syngenta hybrid corn in this bed with the corn in the previous section.
- "Symbols of the State" will include the dogwood (state flower), blueberries (one of the state berries) and other seasonal plants. The visual appeal of Syngenta Flowers' Angelonia and Ipomoea flower varieties enhance the state's symbols.
All of the crops and flowers were planted in May, allowing visitors to watch the exhibit grow and bloom over the summer months.