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Sweet onions replace grass and shrubs at VOC headquarters

by | January 09, 2011
It is a new year, and there is a new look at 100 Vidalia Sweet Onion Drive in Vidalia, GA, where the Vidalia Onion Committee, Vidalia Area Convention & Visitors Bureau and Vidalia Onion Business Council are based. The grass and shrubs flanking the building's front walk have been uprooted, and thousands of Vidalia onion seedlings have been set out in their place.

The idea was the brainchild of Richard Williams, events coordinator for the Vidalia Area Convention & Visitors Bureau, and Wendy Brannen, executive director of the Vidalia Onion Committee and museum chairperson. As volunteer curator, Ms. Brannen has been in charge of fundraising, research, artifact collection and exhibit planning during the four-year project, which will culminate in a grand opening event April 29 in conjunction with the annual Vidalia Onion Festival.

According to the onion representative, she and her tourism pal thought onions on the front lawn would not only be a draw for potential event media but also the perfect way for tourists to actually see the crop. "People come through town expecting to see onions lining the streets, and that's obviously not a realistic picture. Rich and I thought having them line our building front would be the next best thing -- certainly better than sending them on a 30 minute hunt for a field," Ms. Brannen said in a Jan. 4 press release. Mr. Williams said that the only possible glitch was getting the city of Vidalia, which owns the property, to approve the project. "We enlisted the local extension staff to plant wildflowers once the bulbs are harvested, and Wendy told the city council I would weed them while they're growing," he said in the release.

Grower R.T. Stanley was all for the idea and played a significant behind-the- scenes role. A prominent member of the Vidalia industry, Mr. Stanley tackled the small plot as he would any other, taking meticulous soil samples, measuring the Ph and prepping the sandy ground typical of Vidalia fields with fertilizer and lime. "We're planting a century seed variety, which is a late variety that won't be ready by the festival, but it should make for pretty plants during the museum opening, and when they're ready, these will be good and sweet," he said in the release.