Local vineyard shares expertise with agribusiness development team

Story by Capt. Varinka Ensminger, Kentucky National Guard Agribusiness Development Team 4

Photos by Staff Sgt. Catherine Corson, Kentucky National Guard Agribusiness Development Team 4

Kentucky Agribusiness Development Team 4 members take notes while Kerry Jolliffe of the Talon Winery and Vineyard teaches them grape cultivation. (photo by Staff Sgt. Catherine Corson, Kentucky National Guard Agribusiness Development Team 4 member)

LEXINGTON, Ky. — Members of the National Guard’s Agribusiness Development Team 4 are taking a little bit of Kentucky know-how with them to Afghanistan thanks to a local wine maker.

Kerry Jolliffe of Talon Winery in Lexington, Ky. shared his expertise with several Kentucky Guard Agribusiness Development Team members.  Troops learned about soil composition irrigation, trellis constructions, predators, pruning and harvesting.

“I was proud to help out,” said Jolliffe.  “It’s not often you’re asked to contribute like this.”

“Grapes are a hard crop to grow.  There are many challenges, but the teams was attentive.   Hopefully they picked up enough.  I’ve no doubt the theses practices will help the Afghan farmers with their crops.”

Kentucky Guardsman Master Sgt. Christopher Campbell, Kentucky Guard Agribusiness Development Team 4, prunes grape vines during a hands on training at the Talon Winery. (photo by Staff Sgt. Catherine Corson)

Master Sgt. Christopher Campbell prunes grape vines during a hands on training session at Talon Winery and Vineyard. (photo by Staff Sgt. Catherine Corson, Kentucky National Guard Agribusiness Development Team 4 member)

“Plus, I was glad to have the help,” he added.

The KYADT 4 members teamed up to get hands on experience along a section of vines.  They identified the parts of the grape vine and pruned the necessary areas. The familiarization will be priceless during their mission.

“It was helpful to learn how to prune the vines.  It was very labor intensive,” said Master Sgt. Chris Campbell.

Sgt. 1st Class Crystal Dunn was glad to have the chance to work in a real vineyard.

“The hands on experience provided a chance to not only know how the vine should look and grow but how someone needs to tend to the vines,” she said.

“The practice was great, made me feel more comfortable toward the end with what we were doing, and more confident that I wasn’t destroying the crop, ” said Staff Sgt. Scott Hutchison.

In Afghanistan, table grapes are grown and harvested for consumption and production. Many local farmers grow their grapes on the ground, which often leads to rotted fruit and spoilage.  The KYADT4 was able to discuss potential obstacles in their deployed environment with the winery staff and develop alternative courses of action to be better able to assist Afghan farmers.

“Taking folks who had no previous experience in correctly pruning the grape vines for maximum yield, and explaining why you prune a certain way is experience I think will be useful in Afghanistan,” said Chief Warrant Officer 3 Scott McCauley.

What’s this all mean in “the big picture” of the war in Afghanistan?  Harriet Allen, owner of Talon Winery and Vineyard, was grateful for the opportunity to get involved with the ADT’s mission.

“It’s my hope that they can transplant the knowledge and experience they gained from a vineyard in the heart of the bluegrass to a war zone on the other side of the world,” she said. “As they put their knowledge and training to work in that region of the world I know that they will also plant the vines of friendship and goodwill.”

About kentuckyguard