The county's $100 million agricultural industry will take center stage tonight at the Bartow History Museum. Starting at 7 p.m., Bartow County Extension Coordinator Paul Pugliese will present a lecture titled "A Brief History of Agriculture in Bartow County."
"My presentation will cover the evolution of agriculture in Bartow County over the past 100 years," Pugliese said. "This presentation is based on a chapter that I complied with J.B. Tate under the book title 'Sketches of Bartow County.' Up until the 1950s, cotton was the dominate crop in Bartow County. Due to the innovation of local famers to adopt a one-variety community, cotton yields increased dramatically in the 1930s and 1940s. As a result, farmers could grow more cotton on less land, which led to the diversification of local farms.
"The presentation will cover what agricultural industries have come and gone over the years along with a local and global perspective on modern efficiencies that changed farming. To give you a snapshot of how much has changed, in the early 1900s Bartow had over 55,000 acres of cotton and a dozen cotton gins. In the 1920s, Bartow had over 147,000 peach trees. By the 1960s, Bartow had as many as 35 Grade A dairies and 65 Grade B dairies."
He continued, "Today, we only have one cotton gin, no commercial peach orchards and no dairy farms. However, Bartow still has a $100 million … agricultural industry composed of poultry, livestock, horticulture and row crops. Bartow now has over 23,000 head of beef cattle and is ranked as the sixth largest cattle-producing county in the state of Georgia."
Open to the public, Pugliese's lecture will be free for BHM members and included in regular admission to the venue for nonmembers.
"I presented a similar version of this program during a Lunch and Learn for the Bartow History Museum last year," Pugliese said. "The presentation was very well received, which is why they invited me back to do an evening lecture and hopefully draw a larger crowd. I hope that this presentation gives our audience a greater appreciation for the local agriculture industry as well as awareness of modern farming practices and how they have evolved over time. This presentation will appeal to just about any consumer that wants to know more about where their food comes from as well as a fascinating historical perspective on farming.
"This presentation complements a featured exhibit, 'The Call of the Land: Cultivating Bartow’s Agricultural Legacy,' that is currently on display at the Bartow History Museum through the end of September. The museum has a done an incredible job with creating this featured exhibition, and I would highly encourage folks to come out and see it while it’s still on display."
Joining Bartow County Extension in 2011, Pugliese has worked for UGA Cooperative Extension since 2006. He captured four accolades during the National Association of County Agricultural Agents' 103rd Annual Meeting and Professional Improvement Conference July 29 through Aug. 2: Distinguished Service Award for Excellence in Extension Education Programs; Search for Excellence in Commercial Horticulture — state winner; Communications Award: Video Recordings — national finalist; and Communications Award: Feature Story — state winner.
"Paul’s presentations at the museum have always been well received and very informative," BHM Director Trey Gaines said. "He has a strong understanding of the impact agriculture has and has had on the people and landscape of Bartow County.
"Agriculture has changed tremendously over the years from the quantity and quality to the types of crops and livestock raised on the many farms in the county. Changes in technology and equipment has also played an important role in the lives of many area farmers."
"While ['The Call of the Land: Cultivating Bartow’s Agricultural Legacy'] exhibit highlights some of the historic stories and tools of local agriculture from years past, [Paul's] talk will expand on some of those historic themes but also bring the topic of local agriculture up to the present," Gaines said. "Agriculture continues to play a major role in our local economy, and Paul will illustrate that role.
"For those wanting to know more about local agriculture and visit some of the historic agricultural sites around the county, the museum is hosting an agricultural bus tour to take place on Saturday, Sept. 22. Paul will serve as tour guide, and we will visit a cattle farm, the former Georgia Institute of Genetics, the Tri-County Gin, Summerland Farm and more. Tickets are limited and can be purchased in the museum gift shop or by calling 770-387-2774."
For more information about the BHM and its exhibits and programs, call 770-382-3818 or visit http://bartowhistorymuseum.org.