The Georgia Mountain Branch Experiment Station, as it was previously known, was established in 1930. Located 3 miles south of Blairsville, the station was first a branch of the Georgia Experiment Station in Griffin. The founder of the station, H.P. Stuckey, was the director of the Georgia Experiment Station. He was assisted by Bonnell Stone, a Union County resident.
The initial 210-acre tract of mostly wooded land (35 acres in cultivation) was leased from Bob Christopher and purchased a few years later by the University System of Georgia Board of Regents.
In 1932, John Bailey was named to head the station, a position he held until his retirement in 1972. The station's earliest research projects focused on the potential for vegetables and fruits in an effort to upgrade the economy of the area. This early work revealed good variety selection with proper fertilizer produced excellent yields of high quality vegetables and fruits.
The station was expanded in the late 1930s and early 1940s to include field research on feed grains, forages, soil fertility, dairying and sheep. A soil test laboratory, fruit stand and community cannery were built during this time by the Civilian Conservation Corps and the Federal Emergency Relief Administration.
In 1938, the station entered a cooperative agreement with the Tennessee Valley Authority known as the GA-TVA Council. The purpose of the council was to promote economic usage of TVA fertilizers in the valley counties of Georgia. Station personnel showed that yields of feed grains and forages could be greatly increased with good fertilizer and proper variety selections. As a result, a farmer from Union County was the first in Georgia to produce 100 bushels of corn per acre.
The 1950s, '60s, '70s and '80s saw significant research gains in apple production, forage evaluations for sheep production, soil-test-crop-yield correlations, variety testing of horticultural crops, beef cattle stocker feeding and swine production. During this time a station researcher became the first scientist to discover that the black rot fungus invaded the apple at bloom.
This tradition of outstanding research continued throughout the 1990s and includes the cultivation and introduction of TifBlair centipede grass. In 2000, the station was renamed the Georgia Mountain Research and Education Center. The name was changed to better reflect the purpose of branch stations statewide.
In 2004, aided by funds raised by the Community Council, the center enacted a series of adult outreach seminars covering a variety of topics. These seminars were an outstanding success, with capacity or near capacity crowds each time. The center also offered several opportunities to area schools for field studies.
The preparations and preliminary installations to the Appalachian Ethnobotanical Garden and the Jarrett House Heirloom Garden were also completed to expand preservation efforts at the center.
The Georgia Mountain Research and Education Center has grown to include 415 acres. Currently, it has 41 ongoing research or extension projects involving 30 UGA faculty members. Current projects involve apples, grapes, beef cattle, blueberries, collards, field corn, sweet corn, forages, pumpkins, soybeans, turfgrass, woody ornamentals and wheat.
Video features GMREC
Georgia Public Broadcasting recently aired an episode of Fast Forward recorded at the Georgia Mountain Research and Education Center.