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Episode 90: Colin Massey and the University of Arkansas Extension Serve The Local Agriculture and Horticulture Community On So Many Levels

Spread the Ozark love

About the Show:

Today’s episode is all about The University of Arkansas Extension Agriculture and Horticulture Program. Colin Massey is our guest and is the Washington County Agriculture and Horticulture Agent.  Colin shared some great stories and walked us through all that he does to promote native horticulture in Arkansas.  He gives us a glimpse into all of the services offered in his department, and the cool thing is that most of them are free.  We also talked about the Master Gardener program and how his office supports its local efforts. 

Colin shared many resources – PDFs and Videos – with us, and we wanted to share them with our listeners. 


raised bed garden on a budget video:

expanded bed garden how-to-fact sheet:

invasive honeysuckle control demonstration:

clean water podcast series –


A few links for native plants:

90 - Colin Massey and the University of Arkansas Extension Serve the Local Community on So Many Levels

TZL Open [0:12] It's time for another episode of I am Northwest Arkansas. The podcast covering the intersection of business, culture, entrepreneurship, and life in general here in the Ozarks. Whether you are considering a move to this area or trying to learn more about the place you call home, we've got something special for you. Here's our host, Randy Wilburn.

Randy Wilburn [0:42] Hey folks, and welcome to another episode of I am Northwest Arkansas. I'm your host, Randy Wilburn, and I'm excited to be with you today. I am here at the Division of Agriculture, University of Arkansas Research and Extension, part of the University of Arkansas system. I'm sitting here with a new friend of mine. His name is Colin Massey, and Colin is the County Extension agent of Horticulture and Agriculture. We're going to throw that in there as well, here in Washington County. And I ran into Colin a month ago when I was on people of color bicycle ride put on by bike NWA and some of the other folks doing some interesting things down around the center of town here in Fayetteville. And Colin and I were sitting down, and I was enjoying a nice beer. And I can't remember the place where we were sitting, and he talked about the fact that he listens to the podcast. So, of course, anytime I talk to somebody that says, I've listened to the podcast, my ears perk up. He started sharing with me some information that got me thinking, and I said, I got to get this guy on my podcast because Colin has a lot of great information about native plants, about how to properly set up your yard from a landscaping perspective, using the most drought-tolerant, and, species of plants that are more native to this area that will thrive better in the climate and typography that we're in. And so, I wanted to have him on the podcast to talk about that. And while this might be an episode that would be better suited for video, we're going to bring it to your mind's eye so that you can see. We are going to paint the best picture that we can of what Colin is talking about and also hear his story. And then what we will try to do is in the Show Notes we will provide you with some additional information so that you can be attuned to all of the native species that thrive here in Arkansas, specifically in Northwest Arkansas. So, without further ado, now that was a mouthful of an opening Colin Massey, how are you doing today?

Colin Massey [2:46] I’m excellent. Thank you very much for that introduction, Randy. And it was West Mountain brewing.

Randy Wilburn [2:51] That's what it was, West Mountain brewing. Okay, perfect. And just so you know, folks, we're doing this live in person, but we're socially distant. We have got our mask on, and I've done a couple of in-person podcasts with my mask on. It doesn't take away from anything. It sounds just as good, so we're going to make the best of it. So, Colin, tell the audience because we like to always start with whoever we're talking to, we want to get their superhero origin story. So, I would love for you to share your superhero origin story and how you got here at the U of A.

Colin Massey [3:24] So my origin story, I always tell people it’s a bit torturous. It took me a while to get here. And, I'm lucky now to find myself in a job that I love that encompasses a lot of my hobbies. But for a long time, I didn't know what I wanted to do. I grew up in Fort Smith. I started going to college down there when it was still West dark(sp)*. And I had gotten a job with the federal government. It was just an office job. I was tired of working in a restaurant, and when I moved to Fayetteville to transfer to school, I got a phone call from that same office, the head of that congressional office at a Fayetteville office. They asked me to keep working for them. And I worked myself into a job in which I was a Grant’s coordinator, which meant that I was working with municipalities and cities and nonprofits trying to get federal funding for projects. I wanted to find out what these groups were doing to be a better advocate for them and, that made a mark on me when the Nature Conservancy and Audubon Arkansas. One day I went out to see what they were seeking funding for, and I stood on the stream bank, and I saw them down in the creek taking measurements looking for aquatic macroinvertebrates for stream health. And I questioned why I wasn't the one down there in the stream taking the measurements, and I immediately gained this passion for water quality; I've always been big into the outdoors. I worked for the government, so I let that drive what I did in my undergraduate degree. And so, I started talking to professors. I took the GRE and decided to take a chance. I quit my job, and someone was, maybe I wouldn't say stupid enough to take me on at that time I didn't have on paper, I didn't have a great science background. But they took a chance on me, and I got into the crop soil and Environmental Sciences Department here at U of A as a grad student. And in 2009, I finished a Master's Degree in that Department. I continued working for that Professor for about five years, mainly in row crops and agriculture. But my degree is actually in Soil Science, but I always wanted to get into that water, environmental side. And I knew some people in this office and I knew one person was taking another job, so I pursued that position to become an agent for water quality. I was hired for that in 2013, and it really just opened up an entirely new world for me. I finally got to work in that area that I had such a passion and desire for and came to work with many other organizations and many different aspects. We worked with a lot of volunteers on stream cleanups, stream bank restoration projects. And an offshoot of that, some people don't always think about how much the plant interface is involved with water quality, or urban forest and in streambank, stability requires plants. And one thing that really was on the rise at that time was the problem of invasive plants. And so, we had a lot of groups that were working to remove those from specific sites, so habitat restoration, and once you have some control over that, you can go back in with native plants. And that was something completely new to me back at that time, but it became a passion, it became a hobby, and a personal goal for me to try to transfer my yard into a habitat for most native plants. Last May of 2019, my previous boss, who was in this position, took a new position in our state office in Little Rock, and I saw an opportunity to change it up a bit. I needed a new challenge. I had done the water quality stuff for about five years, and it presented me an opportunity to focus a little bit more on the plant side, really get back to my roots a little bit with that soil science background to become the agent for horticulture. And so, now my job is a bit different. It has been split into three sections. I’m an agent that supports the Master Gardener program, which is a volunteer service organization. And we work with the consumer horticulture community, which are producers that are selling to farmer’s markets or wholesale markets. And then there's the home horticulture, the resident who may call us with a problem with their tree or a landscape question or a vegetable garden question. So that's been really exciting. I really enjoy it. And I get to meet with a lot of different people, and really bring that knowledge. Our organization’s mission is to strengthen communities through health or agriculture by bringing our claim to fame that we are a science-based organization. We're taking that research-based science from the university, and we are bringing that to the public,

Randy Wilburn [8:11] As you're saying this, it just dawns on me how many people actually know that this exists? Because it seems like it's the best-kept secret. I mean, I learned about it two ways. Now I have a mask on, and people listening to this podcast can see this, but I'm wearing my rotary mask. And I'm a member of the downtown Rotary Club. Some of you guys have heard me say that before on past episodes; a big shout out to the downtown Fayetteville Rotary Club. We've had some great people come in. I believe a woman came in and spoke, and I can't remember her name, but I want to say she was one of the founders of a greenhouse that's down there south of town. I can't think of the name of it, but I've been there several times. It's just south down at the bottom of Crossover, where Crossover meets 27, I think. Where MLK turns into whatever that road, it turns into, and you keep going down there. And on the right-hand side of town, if you're driving away from Fayetteville, there is a greenhouse there. I can't remember the name.

Colin Massey [9:08] Is it White River Nursery?

Randy Wilburn [9:09] White River Nursery. She was from there. She shared a lot about the importance of introducing and keeping and maintaining and continuing to allow to flourish the native species of plants, both on a large scale, but then specifically just in your yard and the reason behind it. And I was really fascinated by that. And then when I met you, I was like, oh, you know what, this is a really good story. This is something that people need to hear. And so, a couple of things, I'd love for you to talk about some of the stuff that you guys specifically do here that a local resident could really benefit from and how they could use your service. And then I want to get into some of the basics of maybe how you turned your yard around and created this virtual local oasis of horticulture.

Colin Massey [10:00] Let me address something first that you mentioned about being a best-kept secret. That's something our former director Rick Carvey(sp), he just retired, always promoted that to the agents was, let's not be the best-kept secret in Arkansas. But you're right, and there are many folks who don't know about us and what services we offer, which we can go into that. Here in Northwest Arkansas, we're growing so rapidly, there are so many people coming in, that maybe didn't grow up in Arkansas, maybe have no idea that we exist, but could probably take advantage of some of those services. And so, what those are, for the resident or the homeowner, one thing that we do, if you're just getting into gardening or landscaping, is to get your soil tested; it's free in Arkansas. Regardless of what county you are, we have an office in every county, something you can take from your lawn, or an orchard, or your garden, and bring that into our office. We send that off to the lab, you get your results and a recommendation on whether you need to add something or whether you don't. And then another one that I deal closely with a lot of calls that I get have to do with disease or something that's wrong with the plant. We have a plant health clinic that is also free, and you can bring samples in, or sometimes I might be taking a visit to someone's residence and taking a sample myself and try to get a diagnosis of what might be affecting that plant and possibly a recommendation on how to remedy it.

Randy Wilburn [11:30] Now when you say plant, are we talking about general house plants?

Colin Massey [11:35] It could be anything from a crop that a farmer is growing to an oak tree to a houseplant.

Randy Wilburn [11:43] So, if I'm having problems with my Golden Pathos, I can bring in the soil sample and have you tell me what I'm doing wrong.

Colin Massey [11:49] The soil sample would give a baseline. It tells you your nutrient and your fertility status. It isn’t necessarily for disease, but if you brought in perhaps a leaf or a root sample, we could take that to the other lab and possibly see what's causing that problem.

Randy Wilburn [12:03] In the last year or two, I went on Dr. Google and learned how to propagate plants. I've propagated a couple of Golden Pathos. There is another plant, I don't even know the name of it, but it's just growing like crazy. I have the green thumb in the family. My wife doesn't, so she jokes that it's all for you. And, I went away for about a week, and I came back, and I’m like, you didn't water the plants? And she was like, you know I can't keep plants alive. And I'm like, yeah, that's good, you don't provide water to them, the basic sustenance of life. That's interesting because I think a lot of people struggle with that. And a lot of people don't grow plants, or they have fake plants in their house, just because they're afraid they will kill whatever they have. And it sounds like you guys can offer a service that, a) a lot of people aren't aware of and, b) it's something that can actually help you to become better at propagating and growing plants.

Colin Massey [12:54] Well, you said it right there, and what I mentioned before, being a trusted research-based source, the goal is to provide best practices to try to give you the best experience possible, and that's not the only thing that we do. Right now, we have about 11 people in this office. I'm just one facet of that, which is horticulture. We have agents that deal specifically with agriculture, pasture, and livestock, a huge commodity, and a huge business here in Northwest Arkansas. So, pasture management and livestock management becomes very important. We have an agent that handles one of the largest youth programs in the nation called the 4-H program. If you ever heard of 4-H, just really fantastic. We have agents that deal with family and consumer science. So, when you walked in and saw me testing a pressure canner lid that focuses on healthy food and healthy communities. We have people who work within snap education, expanded food, and nutrition to promote healthy eating and food security for everyone in this region. And then we also have a community on the economic development side, and part of that is an urban stormwater program. As I mentioned, Northwest Arkansas is growing at such a rapid pace, there's a lot more pavement than there used to be versus forest and pasture, which puts some stresses on our water supply beaver lake. And that team works with 21 cities in jurisdictions here in Northwest Arkansas to make sure they're in compliance with the EPA on those stormwater standards, but also to provide education to the residents on how to limit their impact on pollutants that would impair water quality.

Randy Wilburn [14:36] You bring up a couple of things I want to talk about because I thought that it was interesting that you were testing that pressure cooker. How common is that for people to bring their pressure cookers in to have them tested? And then it just dawned on me, canning; everybody cans. It’s become a new phenomenon nowadays. So, talk to me just a little bit about that and what goes into testing a pressure cooker.

Colin Massey [15:00] And that's not something I'd normally do. I had to learn to do it several weeks ago. I’ve been here for almost seven years; that was the first time. A couple of weeks, it was the first time I'd done it; there are only two of us in the office. Just looking at the log for this year, it looked like about two dozen people use that and it's a safety precaution to make sure that you're those gauges and that pressure is accurate because those things could be dangerous if they were to blow their top. There's a pump in there, there's a little gasket that you would set that lid on, right above the gauge, and then there's a master gauge, and you pump that up with your foot. And you make sure that those gauges are matching with regard to the psi. If it's off by more than two, they would probably suggest getting a repair, a new gasket for that lid, or possibly a new canner. It’s really calibration.

Randy Wilburn [15:53] It's good to know. I mean, there you go, folks. If anybody needs to have their pressure cooker calibrated, you know where to go; Colin is your man. And I'll make sure again that all this information is in the Show Notes because I think you could benefit from taking advantage of some of the things these guys are doing. The second thing I wanted to ask about is that I was told a while ago that the water quality in this area is pretty good. And I drink a lot of water. I have lived all over the country all over the world. And I would say that the water here is quite tasty, compared to some other places that I've been to. Why is that?

Colin Massey [16:29] Well, you're right. Beaver Water District does an amazing job of providing clean drinking water to this region. We’ve worked with them a great deal over the years. And one I would say is that people here do care a lot about it. It's a big economic driver to have that water supply, and it does promote what this region is about healthy living and outdoor living. A lot of it has to do with how the watershed is situated, and much of it is forested, not to say that there aren't problems. There are significant issues that a lot of the partners we work with are working on. One of the main pollutants you may not know about for any real lake or river in Arkansas is sediment. Typically, that's coming from stream bank erosion.

Randy Wilburn [17:18] That's not like your normal thing. You're thinking of maybe runoff from a farm or something like that.

Colin Massey [17:26] Which used to be. That was entirely in the news 20 years ago before I got into the agricultural world. Arkansas was being sued by Oklahoma over water quality standards due to runoff from pastures.

Randy Wilburn [17:41] Well, I saw dark water, which gave me a whole different appreciation of understanding where your water is coming from where the sources are exactly.

Colin Massey [17:51] But, regulations were put in place that monitors that. And, the other thing you have are these kinds of emerging contaminants. When you get into urban growth, a lot of those pollutants can change. You have automotive fluids. Litter is one that's very visible, and then bacteria and things. But sediment is one of the main concerns because it carries nutrients with it that could grow algae. But, with Beaver Lakes, much of that watershed is still rule(?) and forested, and forests just play one of the most key roles in filtering and slowing down runoff.

Randy Wilburn [18:26] And, when you talk about it, I don't think people appreciate how fragile our ecosystem is and how everything is tied to everything else, and that's the key thing there. It's like we sometimes say, oh, well, forget about that. What's the big deal, and then the impact is what it does to something else, so it's like a cause and effect. It's the same argument that people have about deforestation, and people like, oh, well, let's just count all the trees. And I know, recently, some things have been allowed to happen in our country where they're just allowing more logging to take place. And they're like, well, these are trees, they will grow back, but there are some other derivative effects of that, that play into this.

Colin Massey [19:11]. You know it doesn't matter whether I'm giving a presentation on water quality, [inaudible 19:17], or plants. I want people always to take away because we're talking about a component of a system. These things are all integrated; they’re all in flux. And if the air, the water, the soil, and the plant interface, if one of those gets widely out of balance, it can skew the whole system. And that comes into play when we start talking about invasive plants taking over. If you get an invasive plant monoculture of shrubs that don't allow your forest to regenerate, you have much less capacity to slow and filter that water or to anchor that soil from eroding. That’s something I always try to emphasize, and that is a cog in the wheel of an interconnected system.

Randy Wilburn [20:05] And since you're talking about invasive species, and I guess a lot of people listening to this may be wondering, well, Colin, how do I know because we have all these subdivisions here in Northwest Arkansas. Everybody wants that manicured grass, and, of course, that uses up a lot of water, so there are other alternatives. What would be your baseline recommendation to the average homeowner here that has a little bit of land, and they want to take advantage of making sure that they have more native species than the stuff they introduced to the environment that isn't necessarily from this area, which may require more water. Because of that may be less resistant to certain things that generally originate here in this area.

Colin Massey [20:53] You really hit it. Concerning native species, some things evolved here that don't necessarily require as much water; they can withstand extremes in these temperatures. They provide habitat may be less susceptible to disease, but the first thing I would do would be to walk that property for the average homeowner. To take a bit of an inventory of what the situation is. Do you have a good stand of hardwoods, or are there invasives threatening the area you're looking into? And if you don't know, if you're not very familiar with plants, you could call our office, we could come to do a walk through with you. You could reach out to our partners as well if water quality is your thing. The Beaver Watershed Alliance, the Illinois River Watershed Partnership, will do these things as well if you live in those watersheds. And so really, to me, first would be to educate myself to take a walk and take an inventory of that. Get out in the rain sometimes and walk and see how the water flows. Now get familiar with it and then reach out. Several groups in this area do education and workshops, and outreach concerning native plants. Fayetteville’s city has been a really big partner with us on some of these habitat restoration projects. Not only the Fable Parks and Recreation Department but also some of the committees like the Environmental Action Committee have jumped on board to this. And it's not just about always going and doing but a big part of it is helping educate the public.

Randy Wilburn [22:27] And so there's quite a bit that can be done and a lot of information that people can get to determine what are some things that you could reintroduce. What native species that were profound here at one point but then went away and are starting to make a comeback?

Colin Massey [22:46] Come back, that's an interesting concept. The Ozarks plateau and the Boston mountains are generally [inaudible 22:56] degree forest lands. And of course, you have all these amazing understory plants that have thrived under those for so long, Dogwoods, Serviceberry, and Redbuds. And these amazing spring ephemeral wildflowers like wild Azalea, things in the sassafras family, sassafras tree and spicebush, just really amazing plants. They provide numerous opportunities for habitat and food supply for wildlife birds for pollinators. And that's the one big thing that we start to talk about with regard to native plants in the yard. Even as somebody that wants to attract pollinators, we realize how important they are to the ecosystem. Here in Bay, though, for example, or Washington County, there are just a number of species that are big problems. Obviously, the Bradford pear, you've probably heard of this. Most of these things were brought here as ornamentals, and really escaped, if you will, and started naturalizing places that they weren't planted through their seed or sprouting from roots. The other two are shrubs, more so than trees, bush honeysuckle, and Chinese privet. These are brought in as hedge plants, and, probably over 100 years ago, maybe more of when they were brought here, they are opportunists. We had a big ice storm in 2009 that damaged some of the tree canopies. And that light penetration allowed some of that stuff to take off and establish at an alarming rate, especially here in our urban forests where there was more of a seed bank, and more and more people had planted those things. You go a little bit further out in the woods in the Ozarks, you're not going to see that as much, although I've driven down Highway 71 quite a bit. If you've ever been down Old 71 down by Winslow the old Smokehouse, there's a giant grove right along the road into the woods of Tree of Heaven, just a nasty plant.

Randy Wilburn [25:00] A nasty plant with a nice name.

Colin Massey [25:03] It's a pretty neat looking tree; it's kind of attractive. The problem with it is it grows at a fast rate. It crowds out the desirable plants that you want. It also emits a chemical. It’s called allelopathy in plants that stop other plants from germinating. So, it just surrounds itself with others just like it. And that's when you what you get, we call a monoculture. There's no diversity.

Randy Wilburn [25:31] Which is what you want to avoid. I don't have any Bradford pear, but I do have honeysuckle and some Chinese privet that we've had to cut out of our yard just to try to get rid of it. The honeysuckle is nice, but once you pull that little stem, it's just everywhere; it's hard to get rid of. So what other issues do you see cropping up that are either new or people should just be aware of, especially when it comes to just their home in these plants at any yards?

Colin Massey [26:12] That's a great question. And for me, I think again it's education. I mentioned that there are so many new people coming into this area that they may not be familiar with this growing zone. Luckily, we get many calls from those people, like, what grows well here. But someone may just like, hey, I liked this plant where I lived in North Dakota, and I want to try to grow it here. And maybe it’s not going to survive. So, to me, it's a lot of education. And that's what we need to do more of and be better at, is providing education on the benefits of these plants and the benefit of putting the right plants in the right place. And I, unfortunately, I see this a lot with trees and newly planted trees and undone subdivisions. The placement of some of these trees is baffling. The trees require a root zone. If you're planting an oak that you're hoping to get to be 60, 70 feet tall at maturity, but you're putting in between a sidewalk and a curb that's only four to six feet wide, it's going to be severely stressed, and it’s not that tree. It's not going to be able ever to see maturity. And that's expensive. It's unfortunate for someone that moves in there, and seven years later, their tree starts to show signs of stress; there’s not much they can do about it. We try to promote one thing to do your research into what you want to plant. Plant responsibly and put the right plant in the right place.

Randy Wilburn [27:43] I know when I first moved here, I was looking at the climate zone in the growing zone, and I know we're in that tweener phase between colder climate zones and warmer climate zones. So, what can we err on because I've seen a bunch of cacti that survived through the winter here in my neighborhood? Then I see some other stuff, I was just looking at some tubers that I have that are growing, and I came back they were alive a week ago, I come back, and they're all dead. And I'm just like, it couldn't have been that cold. So, I would be interested to know about our growing zone, and what people need to be aware of, as far as that's concerned.

Colin Massey [28:26] Well, you're exactly right, we're right on that line. You can almost go 40 minutes south of here, and you're going to be in a different growing zone of six B. So, in a lot of ways here in Fayetteville, Washington County, and Benton County, really a little bit more like southern Missouri than we are south of I 40. In Arkansas. So really, it becomes important when you are selecting plants to look at that range. Usually, there's a range that is put on the tag or the description of that plan of what zone is going to work best in. And you're right, sometimes it does get quite cold here. Some plants that just aren't as hardy fig is a good example. People love to grow figs they are a delicious fruit and we are right in that zone where you can keep them around. If you get a cold winter, they are going to die back to the ground but they will grow back from the root. But those stocks that you've established are not going to make it, so it's a little bit of having expectations. If you do try to plant something that's out of the growing zone, how are you going to manage that? Maybe you've had it in a pot, you can bring it in for the winter if you love that plant so much. But you mentioned things like a cactus or a yucca there are some native to Arkansas that grow in some of the upper parts of the mountainous regions that we have, surprisingly, not being in the desert.

Randy Wilburn [29:45] So, if you're aware of those and know where to get them, they can be something that you can add to your yard and grow.

Colin Massey [29:54] Sure, if that's available through a nursery, I wouldn't recommend anyone ever got to the woods and try to cut it and bring it home. It does drive home the point, Randy, that choosing something native, you can have that taken care of. It was evolved to grow here; it's going to withstand those extremes and climate we have. It's usually almost always going to come back.

Randy Wilburn [30:17] And it's so funny, I was just sitting here, as you were saying that, and I remember going to the museum of Native American history up in Bentonville. And they were talking about some of the growth that they did. I mean, like, millennia, I mean, a long time ago. And so, when you think about stuff that's native here, there are things that have been here for 1000 plus years or more. And so, it's not like it's just brand new to the area. And that's why I think some of the things you're aware of it you're like, okay, well, at least I know, I can introduce this to the area, because it already has a history here. I had a guest on the episode not too long ago, and we talked about the apple orchards that used to exist in Arkansas. Many people don't think about Arkansas and apples, but Arkansas had a large apple section of apple orchards. And a lot of them went away, and they're trying to re-establish them. But I would love for you if you know a little bit about that history what happened? Why did the apples go away? They just get cut down or what?

Colin Massey [31:24] I don't know that I know the full history of that. Probably I should. But you're right; it was an incredibly robust industry at one time. I think, possibly, at the time, this was the largest apple-growing region in the nation.

Randy Wilburn [31:40] Which when you think about it, because like, I came from New England. In New England, there are many apple orchards up in the New England states, and this time of the year is the time of year its fall. That's when you go to the apple orchards to go pick your apples, get some cider, get some apple cider doughnuts, the whole nine yards. That would be a great experience down here.

Colin Massey [32:00] I remember when I was a kid, we came up to Lincoln. My dad called it Apple town, and the same thing, they get the dumplings and cider. As far as its history, I think it was probably a combination of things. One was perhaps disease and insect pressure. We live in a rather temperate climate here, we have a very high humidity climate, which is conducive to fungal, bacterial pathogens, and many insects, and they like to eat a lot of the same things that we like to eat. And so, the cost of managing those orchards, I imagine was pretty intense. Back at that time, there weren’t a lot of options concerning sprays and pesticides. There was probably less regulation too, so they were some pretty nasty stuff that they had to use to manage that; I'm sure it was somewhat expensive. But you also had to change in commodities. A lot of that was turning over to pasture and livestock. And as this area is urbanized, even more, we still see those kinds of changes. But you're right, there are a lot of people here that are interested in growing fruit. You can still find pockets of orchards around in Springdale, even out towards Lincoln that I mentioned before, in South Fayetteville. And so, you're right, there's nothing like going to the Co-Op, or the Farmer’s Market and having an apple that was grown here. Many people don't like them, but the Arkansas black apple is a very old heirloom variety grown here at one time. Just really neat to be able to taste the history in that, if you will.

Randy Wilburn [33:44]. And that's why I think we've had a bunch of cideries crop up, and we've got some great places that offer cider, and there are a lot of options as far as that's concerned. This is a really good education here. I hope that the listeners have enjoyed what you've had to share today. Colin, if people want to reach out to you, what's the best way for them to connect with you?

Colin Massey [34:09] Right, so right now, I'm working remotely. But if you would like to use any of our services if you'd like to learn more, we have an office in every county, and we've got a really good website, that's You can find any of those offices there. But one would be to give us a call here at the office. You can email me at And my cell phone right now is my office phone, that's 479-466-1651. And so, if you have a question regarding horticulture, whether that's gardening, landscape or trees, urban forestry, feel free to give me a call if you're in Washington County. We have a great agent in Benton County as well. His name is Ryan Neil, and he's a great colleague. We get to partner on a lot of things, and he does the same job that I do in Benton County. But yeah, just reach out and ask your question; if I don't know the answer, I will find out for you.

Randy Wilburn [35:10] Exactly. I love that. Thank you so much for coming on. I want to encourage everybody to listen to this to take advantage of this information. I know people are building homes. I know people that already have older homes. And so, a little bit of information goes a long way. And Colin might save you a bunch of heartache in the future just by having a conversation about the different variety of plants that you may want to introduce to your new yard. There are a lot of things that you can do about that, so I'm sure you agree with that.

Colin Massey [35:42]. And one thing I forgot to mention is our website. If gardening is your thing, or even if it isn't, you want to get involved in it. We have a fact sheet on every vegetable that you can grow in Arkansas, every fruit that will go over the soil requirements, and the fertility, things you can do on the front end to prevent disease. And that can go anywhere from lettuce, eggplant, tomatoes, onions, anything like that. So yeah, I would just encourage people to check those out.

Randy Wilburn [36:12] That would be valuable right now because, especially with the pandemic going on, many people have been doing victory gardens and things of that nature. Even I've done a little bit of gardening myself. But, a lot of times, again, a little bit of information goes a long way. And a lot of people are making raised garden beds. And so, you know, this information can be really helpful for you. I'm going to put a link in the Show Notes so people can access that and take advantage because I'm sure it would be helpful.

Colin Massey [36:38] I'll share that with you too, you're exactly right. We saw when the pandemic and kind of the shutdown hit. We saw an increase in traffic on people wanting to increase their gardening or get into gardening for the first time, so we knew there was a big educational opportunity there. And not everyone has space to put a garden in the ground, and there was interest in raised beds. Another way people can follow us is we're on Facebook, and we're on Instagram, that's nwaplantagent on Instagram or NWA horticulture on Facebook. We recorded a short video about six minutes long on How to Build a Raised Bed Garden on a budget for over $100. Pretty simple, but really, again, just trying to bring those best practices and just a way to get people's foot in the door with gardening. It was really important this year. Food security is a big issue and we love to see that. We love to see people taking advantage of those soil tests and growing more. I learned a lot from my mistakes. That's been my experience with gardening earlier on was sometimes you learn what not to do and some years things happen. Yes, the disease will get you but keep doing it. But you do find little tricks each year what works and maybe what you would avoid.

Randy Wilburn [38:04] Okay, there you have it, folks. Colin Massey has laid it out for you. We will be sure to put all of that stuff in the Show Notes so that you can access the Instagram site, the Facebook page. If you want to build a raised bed garden if you want to figure out what invasive species you have in your yard that you want to get rid of. You can thank me later for reading the Show Notes and taking advantage of all the great things that Colin and his team here at the U of A, Division of Agricultural Research and Extension office have available for you. Washington County has an office in Benton County as an office. There is information for all the counties that make up the greater Northwest Arkansas area. So, I really want to encourage you to take advantage of what these folks have available. So, Collin, thank you so much for coming on the show.

Colin Massey [38:52] Randy, thank you so much for having me. It's an honor.

Randy Wilburn [38:54] Well, there you have it, folks, another episode of the podcast. I really appreciate your patience and checking this one out. I also wanted to tell you as we started doing recently, I want to just point out that we have sponsors for the podcast now, which I'm really excited about. The first one is the exclusive Real Estate Group, Chris Dinwiddie and his team have an expanded group of folks. They do house designs, they have architects available, they can facilitate everything from design services to turnkey new construction. You can learn more about Chris Dinwiddie and the team at the exclusive Real Estate Group by just checking them out online. You can also check them out in the Show Notes and there's information you can click on their website. Just call Chris directly. He even puts out his cell which very few primary brokers do but his cell is 479-305-0468. Mentioned that you heard about him here on the podcast and Chris will take good care of you, no matter what your real estate needs are. And secondly, I'm working on a program it's called Next Level Seven. If you've ever thought about starting your own business or giving your current business a real tune-up, you need to check out Next Level Seven and take some lessons from the master. Brian Clark who actually is a friend of mine is an individual that has built not one but two eight-figure businesses from scratch and sold them. We use Brian's training here at I am Northwest Arkansas as we continue to grow this business and it has really transformed how we do business. You can get the free course that Brian offers today from Next Level Seven, be a part of the entrepreneurial movement here in the Ozarks. All of this information and a link to this free course is on our website at and you can just check out this particular episode of the podcast. And so, I would love for you guys to support our supporters and sponsors for this podcast because you know we always have to pay the bills and we appreciate those that have seen the value in what I am Northwest Arkansas represent as a podcast and as a movement and we certainly appreciate each and every one of you that takes time out of your day to check out this podcast each week. Remember our episodes come out every Monday. We really appreciate you wherever great podcasts can be found on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, SoundCloud, no matter where you go, you can find I am Northwest Arkansas and remember I said this before, if you have an Alexa, just say hey, Alexa, play the latest episode of I am Northwest Arkansas and you will hear me piping right through your Alexa hot and fast so I hope you check that out when you get a chance. That's all I have for you this week. I am Randy Wilburn, your host for I am Northwest Arkansas and I will see you next week. Peace

TZL Open [41:37] We hope you enjoyed this episode of I am Northwest Arkansas. Check us out each and every week available anywhere that great podcasts can be found. For Show Notes or more information on becoming a guest, visit We will see you next week on I am Northwest Arkansas.

 If you have a question about your yard or need some horticulture help, please don’t hesitate to reach out to Colin

Colin Massey

County Agent – Ag/Horticulture

UofA System Division of Agriculture

Cooperative Extension Service

2536 McConnell Ave

Fayetteville, AR 72704

479.466.1651 (mobile)

Text plant disease with photos if possible

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The Exclusive Real Estate Group – Serving all of Northwest Arkansas from Dickson St. to Bentonville Square, Broker Chris Dinwiddie, and his agents are ready to provide first-class representation for any of your real estate needs.  

Chris’ team has expanded to include in house designers and architects.  They can facilitate everything from design services to turnkey new construction.  Click Here to contact them, and be sure to mention that you heard about them from IANWA. 

Or, if you need to move quickly, call Chris directly on his cell at 479-305-0468 and mention that you heard about him here on the podcast. 

Build Your Perfect Business with Next Level 7 – If you’ve ever thought about starting your own business or giving your current business a real tune-up, you need to check out Next Level 7 and take some lessons from the master, Brian Clark. Brian has built not one but two 8-figure businesses from scratch – and sold them! 

We use Brian’s training here at I am Northwest Arkansas, and it has transformed how we do business.  Get the FREE Course today! 

Be a part of the Entrepreneurial Movement here in the Ozarks. 

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