I was on my way to the Utah State University Botanical Center in Kaysville to attend an event where the public could sample from the variety of grapes grown at the Observational Garden.

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The Utah State University Botanical Center Orchard has about 40 different varieties of grapes. Visitors are invited to sample them as they please. (Joshua Wineholt / The Signpost)

As I neared their location, the sky grew dark, and a heavy rainstorm — accompanied by thunder and lightning.

The storm caused me to miss the event, but I quickly learned that my day wouldn’t be a complete write off. The USU Botanical Center has many events similar to this that are open to the public.

According to their website, “Utah State University Botanical Center guides the conservation and wise use of plant, water and energy resources through research-based educational experiences, demonstrations and technology.”

The Botanical Center hosts a weekly farmers market on Thursday evenings that features a selection of fresh produce and homemade crafts sold by local vendors.

Along with the farmers market, a special event that changes each week accompanies the vendors. In the past, they have done root beer tastings and homemade salsa competitions. In the coming weeks, they will be hosting a chili cook-off and apple tastings.

While food is a popular theme at the Botanical Center, there are plenty of activities to take part in to enjoy nature’s beauty.

“The Botanical Center…features a much-loved urban fishery, walking and biking trails, wetland areas that support birds and other wildlife, a volunteer-tended garden, a seasonal farmers market and a full schedule of classes, workshops, educational field trips and other events,” according to the Botanical Center website.

Another event preceding Halloween is the Dash in the Dark 5K, where participants can be chased by “zombies” through the botanical center.

The event is open to all those at least 12 years old, and they welcome people of any athletic ability to participate.

After the 5K, the Botanical Center will host a “post-zombie apocalypse party” with food, activities, dancing and photo ops with zombies.

While grapes and zombies are all good, the importance of the Botanical Center cannot be overstated. A place where the public can learn about nature and its components is a value to the community that more people could be taking advantage of.

For information about the USU Botanical Center, visit their page on Utah State University’s website.

Editor’s note: This story was updated to correct information. The grape class had not been canceled.

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