I rediscovered Lane Agri-Park about this time last year. I'd been to a few events in its community buildings, but I'd missed a significant aspect of the property—its gardens.
As a mother of young kids always looking for a new hangout, I took the kids, and we were all captivated by the beautiful flowers, whimsical touches, and inviting landscape of the pond and educational raised bed gardens. It quickly became a favorite picnic spot.
If you're unfamiliar with the park, it's managed by the UT-TSU Extension Office of Rutherford County, which, among a number of other services, oversees the county's 4H programs, Master Gardener Program, agricultural resources, soil testing, and other green endeavors. Its gardens and properties are also education- oriented, providing a space where locals can connect with and learn from local growers.
Simply put, it's a wonderful educational AND socially-distanced appropriate outing for families, which, in this Covid-era time we live in, is a great win-win in my book.
Check out my three reasons to visit Lane Agri-Park.
1. The Gardens at Lane Agri-Park
As a kid raised around gardens, I appreciate the hard work that goes into them, but I still need a little guidance and inspiration when it comes to planting my own. The kids and I have enjoyed exploring the plants, flowers, and vegetables on site and dreaming about what to bring in our own yard.
There are nine demonstration gardens at Lane Agri-Park, showing a wide variety of types of gardens and plants: a butterfly garden, herb garden, vegetable garden, perennial garden, and composting, as well as many types of fruit plantings on display. The wildflowers in pollinator island have been a huge hit this year with visitors, and peaked in blooms around May. It's beginning to dry now, but there are still some wonderful colors to see.
There is a geocache hidden in the garden for those that enjoy finding hidden treasures, and a garden scavenger hunt activity for children is available in the Garden Box at the entrance to the pavilion (it's also excellent for using in your own yard, so pick up an extra copy!)
The gardens are maintained by the Rutherford County Master Gardeners – volunteers of the UT/TSU Extension office who share their passion for horticulture and plants with the community. The gardens are open to the public during daylight hours. Just remember to be respectful of the gardens and leave the blooms and plants as they are so that others may enjoy them as well.
Oh, and don't forget to get a picture on the butterfly bench!
2. The Farmers Market at Lane Agri-Park
Visit the gardens while on your way to the Rutherford County Farmers' Market, which is located at the Lane Agri-Park Community Center building across the parking lot from the gardens. The market is open every Tuesday and Friday from May until the end of October from 7 am until Noon. Masks are of course required, social distancing observed, and cashless payment methods and hand sanitations stations are available.
The market is a local and producer-only market, which means the vendors had to have produced the items for purchase themselves or on their farm. My kids love meeting the farmers and seeing the different varieties of fruits and vegetables available. True, I do have a little extra work keeping my three-year-old's hands off of the tables, but the vendors are patient and helpful, and the kids consider it a treat to go.
3. Fishing Pond at Lane Agri-Park
The pond at Lane Agri-Park behind the gardens is also open to the public for fishing on Tuesdays and Fridays, going hand-in-hand with the farmer's market schedule. Be sure to read the signs posted by the pond for further information and guidelines to follow while fishing; namely that all fishermen and women over 13 need a license, no boats permitted, only 4 fish per day are allowed, and all visitors should keep the area clean. My children have enjoyed finding flowers and reeds around the pond, as well as watching dragon flies before dashing back to the garden pavilion for some shade and a rest.
A few other points of interest on the property is a small playground, climbing rocks for active kiddos and even a few picnic tables. And, while I love Lane AgriPark for the lovely outing it offers families, it's also a rich resource of educational material for all ages. Take time to peruse their site for more information on their gardening, agricultural, and food programs offered online and at the facilities.
Lane AgriPark 315 John Rice Blvd. Murfreesboro. 615-898-7710; Website
Laura Beth Payne is a writer mama living in the Blackman community of Murfreesboro with her husband Nathan and their two young children. Follow @murfreesboromama on Facebook and Instagram for more ideas for family fun in the city.