I reckon now that we're getting settled in and the place is starting to run itself, this is as good a time as any to put down what I've learned about the Ag Center in my few years here. I can't say this is a full history or anything, but if I don't write it down I don't know who will.
The Agricultural Center didn't start as an Agricultural Center. Before the war, it was a satellite relay facility used by the military, though heck if I know what exactly for. The place was secret enough not to be hit when the bombs fell, and the old satellite dish still stands intact.
From records I found in old filing cabinets, it seems that after the end, the soldiers and researchers stationed here joined up with the nearby farmers at the agricultural station, who had also survived the war relatively unscathed. The farmers' knowledge of planting and husbandry, combined with the researchers organizational skills and the soldiers tactical training, soon made Ag Center one of the most thriving communities in the wastes.
But then things got a little weird. The fallout from the bombs was changing the Wasteland in many ways, and Ag Center was no exception. Kathy tells me that the early farmers could've tried countering the mutations that were affecting the plants with selective breeding, but instead they decided to ride the wave of weirdness, selecting for bigger and hardier mutations to get better yields, which is how we've come to have tomatoes the size of cantaloupes, and cantaloupes the size of beer barrels.
For most of its existence, the Ag Center was led by an old farmer everybody called the Old Man, though his real name might have been Miguel. He must've been a hundred when Vargas, Thrasher, Angela and Hell Razor came a-calling, fresh-faced and eager to help.
But why did the Ag Center need help? Well, mutations ain't just all roses and giant carrots. Around about that time, the Center was invaded by hordes of giant rabbits who were just as happy eating people as they were the crops. It was a serious problem, made worse by the attacks being seemingly coordinated by some crazed old coot called Harry the Bunnymaster. Swear to God I'm not making this up.
It wasn't pretty, but the Rangers took care of Harry, and drove off enough of the rabbits to allow Miguel and his men to take back control of the facility. It was the dawn of a bright now era for the Ag Center, but, sad to say, Miguel didn't get to see it. Not too long after Vargas and co. moved on, the Old Man disappeared. Lots of wild theories out there about the how and why. Some say he was taken away by the vegetable spirits. Others claim he was eaten by a carnivorous strawberry. I think he just wandered off with his goals accomplished. I would've liked to have met him though. Seems like he was my kind of guy.
Without him Ag Center was doing okay, but it was lacking the leadership to really put all noses in the same direction. Brilliant though a lot of the scientists here are, they're not the most pragmatic sort. So one day, a few years into my stint with the Desert Rangers, I found my thoughts turning to the Ag Center while recuperating from a bullet wound, and started thinking what a great blessing to the wastes the old place could be if it was run right
I hauled myself here as soon as I recovered, and I've been here ever since. I hope I've done more good than bad since. At least the place is more secure now than when I arrived, and we have trading deals in place with Highpool and the Rail Nomads, which puts us and many of the other communities around us in a better position as far as food and water are concerned. Trade and communities supporting one another has been one of the hardest things to nail down since the war, and you can see how much everyone benefits. We get water from Highpool, transportation from the Rail Nomads, and they all get food from us, as do many others. Now if we can just keep it all stable, Arizona will really start going places.
As for Ag Center, it's maybe still a bit more of a hodgepodge than I hoped. We're still more a group of strangers working together than a true community, but with the oddball minds I have to work with here (I swear, if Honeydew starts on me about his melons one more time...) I guess it's the best we can do. And heck, it's pretty good!