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September is National Honey Month

In This Issue A Publication of the Alabama Farmers Federation SEPTEMBER/FALL 2012

Sweet Work September is National Honey Month, and beekeepers throughout Alabama are celebrating what can be described as a really sweet job. • 20

Campus Champions Students from Alba Middle School won back-toback championships for keeping their campus clean. • 8

ON THE COVER Daniel Hutcheson of Pisgah says he has one of the sweetest jobs in all of agriculture, and although he has a small farm, his work can have a big impact on agriculture. Photo by Debra Davis

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Outstanding Young Farmers Meet three of the finalists for the Alabama Farmers Federation’s Outstanding Young Farm Family Award. Part one of a series. • 12

Rocket City Rednecks

DEPARTMENTS 4

President’s Message

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Alabama Gardener

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Country Kitchen

Five men who live near Huntsville have found their way to stardom through their redneck roots and homegrown curiosity. • 28 3

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VOLUME 37, NUMBER 9

_________________________________________ Debra Davis, Editor Mike Moody, Graphic Designer

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aseball legend Yogi Berra once eration members can save enough said, “A nickel ain’t worth a with a single purchase to pay their dime anymore.” membership dues for a year (or But while a dollar might not buy more). Plus, Federation members what it once did, membership in have access to a full line of insurAlabama Farmers Federation has ance products backed by extraordinever been more valuable. nary service from Alfa. Last year, Federation members In the coming months, the saved at least $650,000 using mem- Federation will introduce even ber benefit programs. This year, we more member benefits, including are on track to more than double an exciting new program that will that amount. provide discounts on products and In fact, members have already services we use everyday. Members saved almost $1 million this year will be able to save at thousands of from a single benefit probusinesses including restaugram. Launched in Seprants and retail stores. tember 2011, the General The most valuable benMotors Private Offer for efits of Federation memberFederation (Farm Bureau) ship, however, don’t come members provides a disfrom stores. Our work to count of $500 on qualifysupport Alabama farmers ing Chevrolet, GMC and helps ensure a healthy food Jerry Newby Buick vehicles they pursupply, a clean environment chase or lease. Since the program’s and economic opportunity. The inception, 1,875 members have Federation’s strong stance on issues taken advantage of the discount for related to faith, family and fiscal total savings of $937,500. responsibility safeguards our way of Now, Federation members have life. And, our commitment to prethe potential to save even more paring children and young farmers with the Farm Bureau Vehicle for leadership will pay dividends for Purchase Program. This new bengenerations to come. efit saves car buyers an average of Most importantly, because the $2,570 off the manufacturer’s sugFederation’s policies are developed gested retail price. Members simply by members in all 67 counties, our use the online tool to search for the work reflects the values and prioricar they want; see what others are ties of members and gives them a paying; find a certified dealer, and stronger voice in Montgomery and lock in their hassle-free price. The Washington. program even incorporates the GM We appreciate your memberbenefit, so members can save $500 ship, and we will continue workoff their lowest negotiated price. ing to make it more valuable. For Car buyers aren’t the only ones more information about Federation who are getting more value from member benefit programs visit their Federation membership. In www.AlfaFarmers.org/benefits or the last year, we secured discounts download the Alfa2Go app for your with Sam’s Club, Wyndham Hotels, iPhone or Android device. n the Talladega Superspeedway and Office Depot. These additions, combined with discounts from brands like Choice Hotels, T-Mobile, Grainger, Sherwin-Williams and Enterprise, mean Fedw w w. A l f a F a r m e r s . o r g

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ALABAMA FARMERS FEDERATION Paul Pinyan, Executive Director Jeff Helms, Director of Communications FEDERATION OFFICERS Jerry Newby, President, Athens Hal Lee, Vice President/North, Hartselle Dean Wysner, Vice President/Central, Woodland Ricky Wiggins, Vice President/Southeast, Andalusia Jake Harper, Vice President/Southwest, Camden Steve Dunn, Secretary-Treasurer, Evergreen DIRECTORS Joe Dickerson, Lexington Ted Grantland, Somerville Waymon Buttram, Geraldine Darrel Haynes, Cullman John E. Walker III, Berry Dell Hill, Alpine Richard Edgar, Deatsville Dickie Odom, Boligee Garry Henry, Hope Hull Carl Sanders, Brundidge David Bitto, Elberta S. Steve Dunn, Samson Rita Garrett, Centre John Bitto, Elberta Neighbors (ISSN 0162-3974) is published monthly by the Alabama Farmers Federation, 2108 East South Boulevard, Montgomery, Alabama 36116 or (334) 288-3900. For information about member benefits of the Alabama Farmers Federation, visit the Web site www.AlfaFarmers.org. Periodicals postage paid at Montgomery, Alabama, and additional mailing offices. Printed in the U.S.A. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Neighbors, P.O. Box 11000, Montgomery, Alabama 36191-0001. ADVERTISING REPRESENTATIVE: Wendy McFarland, McFarland AdVantage, 133 Bridlewood Lane, Hope Hull, AL 36043. Phone: (334) 652-9080. Email: mcfarlandadvantage@gmail.com. Editorial inquiries should be directed to the editor at (334) 613-4410. ADVERTISING DISCLAIMER: Ad­vertise­­­­­­­ ments contained in Neighbors do not represent an endorsement by the magazine or the Alabama Farmers Federation. EDITORIAL MATTER from sources outside of the Alabama Farmers Federation is sometimes presented for the information and interest of our members. Such material may, or may not, coincide with official Alabama Farmers Federation policies. Publication of material does not necessarily imply its endorsement by the Alabama Farmers Federation. ADDRESS editorial, advertising and change of address correspondence to Neighbors, P.O. Box 11000, Montgomery, Alabama 361910001. www.AlfaFarmers.org A member of American Farm Bureau Federation S E P T E M B E R / FA L L 2 0 1 2

South Alabama Welcomes 40th Annual Commodity Conference

By Debra Davis

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igh temperatures and an occasional thundershower weren’t enough to dampen the spirits of nearly 700 farmers who attended the 40th annual Alabama Farmers Federation Commodity Producers Conference in Mobile, Aug. 2-4. Tours and educational seminars helped introduce farmers to new crops, farming methods and the latest technology. Members of the Federation Women’s Leadership Committee enjoyed the cotton sewing and tablescapes contests, while young farmers honed their leadership skills in the Discussion Meet. The conference kicked off with a reception Aug. 2 for Supreme Court Justice candidate Roy Moore and Public Service Commission presidential candidate Twinkle Andress Cavanaugh. The Danville High School FFA String Band provided entertainment for the evening. Covington County farmer Jerry Foshee was among those on the Aug. 3 tours in Mobile and Baldwin counties. He said while all farmers share things in common, it’s interesting to see how other farms work. “I was interested in the fencing they were doing to keep the deer out of their cotton,” Foshee said of the tour at Andy Thorn-

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Federation members enjoyed tours to diversified farms in Mobile and Baldwin counties, including Waters Nursery of Robertsdale, above, and Predido Vineyards, below.

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burg’s Mobile County farm. “I also wanted to see the processing plant (at the Gulf Coast Agricultural and Seafood Cooperative in Bayou La Batre). I like to see what everybody else is doing and learn. Seeing is learning.” Limestone County Farmers Federation President Paul Looney shared similar thoughts. “Some things will not work at our farm, but there is a principle we can use off of every stop on the tour,” Looney said. “We might not do it this way, but we can use the principle of it on some of our stuff. I love to see how all parts of Alabama work. We’ve got a variation of agriculture from one end of our state to the other.” Seminars on everything from the farm bill to mobile phone applications filled most of the day Saturday. A luncheon for Women’s Leadership Committee members recognized the winners in the sewing and tablescapes contests. This year’s sewing contest introduced a new challenge – homesewn aprons. The hand-stitched and machine-stitched quilt contests were popular again this year, as was the tablescapes competition. Pat Schrand of Coffee County won first place in the Apron Contest. Brenda Curry of Dale County took second, and Ruby Nuss of St. Clair County won third. In the Youth Apron Contest, Kayla Sarro of Talladega County won first place, Tallie Schaffer of Cullman County finished second, and Sarah Swain of Calhoun County took third. Margaret Caldwell of Talladega County won first place in the Hand-Stitched Quilt Contest. Delores Mount of Crenshaw County was the second-place winner, and Ruby Nuss of St. Clair won third. Gayle Smith of Limestone w w w. A l f a F a r m e r s . o r g

Winners in the Cotton Sewing Contests and Tablescapes Contest are, from left, Pat Schrand of Coffee County, first place in the Apron Contest; Kayla Sarro of Talladega County, first place in the Youth Apron Contest; Margaret Caldwell of Talladega County, first place in the Hand-Stitched Quilt Contest; Gayle Smith of Limestone County, first place in the Machine Stitched Quilt Contest; and Carolyn Hill of Talladega County, first place in the Tablescapes Contest.

Supreme Court Justice candidate Roy Moore spoke to Federation members during the opening banquet.

County won first place in the Machine-Stitched Quilt Contest. Gail Oden of Etowah County won second, and Margaret Caldwell of Talladega County finished third. In the Tablescapes Contest, Carolyn Hill of Talladega County won first place, while June Flowers of Pike County finished second, and Rhonda Hughes of Jefferson County won third. Winners in each division received cash awards of $150 for 6

first place, $100 for second place and $75 for third place. For more information about the Federation’s Women’s Leadership Division, visit http://www.alfafarmers.org/programs/womens_division.phtml The closing banquet Aug. 4 introduced finalists in the Young Farmers Discussion Meet held Saturday morning. They were Kirk Smith of Blount County, Jon Hegeman of Calhoun County, Josh Turner of DeKalb County, Zach Ingrum of Limestone County, Andrew Brock of Marshall County and Leanne Jenkins of St. Clair County. The final segment of the discussion meet will be at the Federation’s annual meeting in December in Montgomery where the winner will be announced. Christian comedian Mark Lowry had members singing and laughing with his spiritual routine as he closed out the meeting that evening. n SEE MORE OF THIS STORY YouTube.com/ AlabamaFarmersFed OR SCAN THIS QR CODE S E P T E M B E R / FA L L 2 0 1 2

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Alba Middle School students Allyson Cornelius and Caeleb Williams work on the school’s butterfly garden.

Alba Middle School Wins Championship For Clean Campus By Mary Johnson

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tudents dream of state championships. At Alba Middle School, the Alba Landscaping Beautification Association (ALBA) Club claims that honor as the 2011 Alabama PALS (People Against a Littered State) Clean Campus award winner. “(We’re) No. 1 in the state in something that normally no one wants to have a part of, and it’s something more important to your school, to your community, than anything,” said Lana McGuff, ALBA Club advisor and school librarian. “We’re teaching recycling, personal responsibility, ownership and pride.” Sponsored by Alfa Insurance and the Alabama Farmers Cooperative, the Clean Campus program involves students in stewardship projects to keep schools litter-free and beautiful. There is no fee to join, and all public and private

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schools in the state are eligible to participate. More than 550 schools competed in last year’s contest. The ALBA Club has participated in the Clean Campus program for eight years and is a perennial champion, placing in the top three each year. As last year’s champion, the club received a $1,000 scholarship and a sign to hang in their school. “For the first six months of school after we get that sign, it goes in the front of the school,” McGuff said. She wants to make sure all the students know and are proud of their clean campus. The Alba Club participates in projects like Coastal Clean-up, recycling and decorating Mariner Park in downtown Bayou La Batre. Each year, they pick a special project to beautify school grounds and maintain projects from previous years. Evidence of ALBA Club’s work and dedication surrounds the school, from a butterfly garden and 8

fountain in between buildings, to hanging flowerpots and flowerbeds at the entrance. Seventh grader Allyson Cornelius said she enjoys being involved and feels great knowing she’s giving back to her community. “You’re with your friends, so that’s fun,” Cornelius said. “Some people may think digging in the dirt is hard work, but when you’re with people you want to be with, that makes it fun.” McGuff says she is very proud of the students because they are the ones doing the work. “It gives them a feeling of ownership of the campus, and that’s why our campus is clean,” McGuff said. For more information about the Clean Campus program and how local schools can get involved, visit www.AlPals.org/CleanCampus. asp. n

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Farming Feeds ALABAMA A collection of recipes from Alabama’s farm families and country cooks

A Cookbook Presented by the Alabama Farmers Federation Pre-order online (beginning Sept. 10): www.farmingfeedsalabama.com

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This book, produced in hardback form, introduces you to these farmers who grow our food, along with 200 recipes and beautiful food photography highlighting some of Alabama’s best country cooks.

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SHIPPING ADDRESS: Address: ____________________________________________________ City: ________________________________________________________ State: _______________________________________________________ ZIP: _________________________________________________________ Daytime phone #: _________________________________________ Federation membership number: _______________________ MAIL ORDER FORM AND CHECK TO: Journal Communications c/o Retail Fulfillment Center 725 Cool Springs Blvd., Suite 400, Franklin, TN 37067 Ordering questions? Call (800) 333-8842, ext. 315. Make check payable to Journal Communications

Joel Sirmon, far right, owner of Sirmon Farms, discusses his sweet potato farm with members of the A.L.F.A Leaders class.

New A.L.F.A. Leaders Class Holds First Meeting In Foley By Mary Johnson

The two-year A.L.F.A. program consists of eight sessions that focus on personal development, political involvement, effective communication and other leadership skills. The sessions are hosted in different regions of the state and use classroom instruction and practical

said the program has exceeded her expectations. he first meeting of the Agri“It’s a huge honor to be able to cultural Leaders For Alabama come and learn more about other (A.L.F.A.) program brought 16 farms and other parts of the agriculyoung farmers to Baldwin County tural industry,” Stewart said. “I’ve July 24-26 for an introductory been very pleased with how it’s leadership session and tours of local going, and I’ve learned a lot.” farms and businesses. Class participants include Fourth-generation Justin Barrett of Elmore Montgomery County beef County, Jeremy Brown of farmer Garrett Henry said Montgomery County, Grant the A.L.F.A. experience is Buck of Sumter County, introducing him to other Zachary Burns of Marshall types of farming. County, Hope Cassebaum of “This is an opportuBaldwin County, Allie Corconity to learn more, includran of Barbour County, Nick ing how to communicate Gibbs of Etowah County, Lee with people who are not Haynes of Cullman County, as knowledgeable about Garrett Henry of Montgomfarming and agriculture,” ery County, Shawn Keel of Henry said. “We can tell Calhoun County, Eric Lovthem what we do and that vorn of Cleburne County, we’re doing it to the best Clint McElmoyl of DeKalb of our ability, caring for County, Jay and Abby Stewart the environment and proof Clay County, Josh Turner Members of the A.L.F.A. Leaders class examine the sweet potato crop ducing a quality product.” from Sirmon Farms in Baldwin County. From left are Nick Gibbs of of DeKalb County and Colin The three-day session Etowah County, Clint McElmoyl of DeKalb County and Colin Wilson Wilson of Jackson County. provided an overview of The group is expected of Jackson County. history and policies of the to graduate at the Alabama American Farm Bureau Federation experiences. Farmers Federation’s 2013 annual and the Alabama Farmers FedA.L.F.A Leaders were nominated meeting. A.L.F.A. Leaders is sponeration. Attendees toured Water’s by their county Federations to parsored by the Alabama Farmers Nursery, Sirmon Farms, Alabama’s ticipate in the prestigious program. Federation. n state docks and Blakeley State Park. Clay County farmer Abby Stewart

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Outstanding Young Farm Family Finalists

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ponsored each year by the Alabama Farmers Federation, the Outstanding Young Farm Family Awards Program recognizes young farmers between the ages of 18 and 35 who do an outstanding job on the farm and in the community. Division winners representing 10 commodities were selected in February. Of those, six finalists will compete for the title of overall Outstanding Young Farm Family for 2012. The winner will be named at the Federation’s 91st annual meeting in December. The overall winner will receive thousands of dollars in cash and prizes including: a nicely equipped 2013 Chevrolet or GMC pickup truck, courtesy of Alfa Insurance and Alabama Farmers Federation; a John Deere Gator XUV, courtesy of Alabama Farm Credit and Alabama Ag Credit; lease of a John Deere tractor, courtesy of SunSouth, TriGreen Equipment and Snead Ag dealers; and a personal computer system from Valcom/CTS Wireless. Alabama’s top young farm family will represent the state in the American Farm Bureau Federation’s Achievement Award competition at its January 2013 annual meeting in Nashville. Three division finalists are featured in this issue. Look for stories on the remaining three finalists in the November issue.

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Paul and Vicki Morrison

The Morrisons Peanut Division By Melissa Martin

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ale County farmers Paul and Vicki Morrison are living proof farmers need only three things to be successful: faith in God; hope that the land will reward them for hard work; and a love of agriculture. That combination earned them the title of Alabama Farmers Federation’s Outstanding Young Farm Family in the Peanut Division. “There’s no way to be closer to God than by farming,” said Paul. “I love putting a seed in the ground and watching it grow.” Fortunately for Paul, there is plenty to watch grow on his everexpanding farm. The Morrisons have 300 acres of peanuts, 440 acres of cotton, 150 acres of hay, 40 acres of corn, 40 acres of sorghum-sudan, 12

50 acres of wheat, 110 acres of seed rye and 25 acres of oats. They also have 304 head of beef cattle, manage 400 acres of pasture land and will assume his stepfather’s acreage when he retires in a year. Vicki, a math teacher at George W. Long High School in Skipperville, said while the responsibilities continue to grow, Paul takes everything in stride and never complains. “I enjoy helping on the farm after school and during summer break, but Paul works so hard every day and loves farming so much,” she explained. “I’m proud of everything he does. Being named a finalist is really a testament to his hard work, patience and optimism.” Paul admits his love for peanuts stems from being around them his whole life, but he’s quick to assert the benefits he’s noticed from growing them in his rotation. “On top of enhancing our cotton crop, peanuts go really well with our cattle operation,” he said. “If we have a dry summer and don’t S E P T E M B E R / FA L L 2 0 1 2

get enough grass hay baled up, we can bale our peanut hay and not have to worry about how we’ll feed cows during the winter.” In addition to their farm life, Paul and Vicki are members of the Dale County Farmers Federation’s Young Farmers Committee and attend Morgan Baptist Church, where – among other roles – they teach Sunday school. Paul serves as secretary-treasurer of the Dale County Cattlemen’s Association; is on the Dale County Farm Service Agency board; and is a member of the Alabama Peanut Producers Association. “We love our farm, and we love what we do,” added Paul. “But we’re also thankful for the opportunities to serve others in church, in the community and wherever we can.” n

cattle herd, which they began in 2001 with just four cows. “We love the cows,” Amanda said. “We want to continue to grow and would love to have a nice size cattle operation.” At their farm, the row-crops and cattle complement each other. “I grow all my grazing,” Josh said. “I have some wheat and oats I put up, and after harvest, the cattle glean the cotton.” Josh and Amanda have known each other most of their lives, but when they married, Amanda was new to life on the farm. “This has been an awakening experience for me, but I love it,” she said. “It’s just a routine you have to get used to.” Part of that routine calls for flexibility, even on special occasions. One Valentine’s Day, an emergency

situation with a pregnant cow kept Josh out in the field all day. Farm life doesn’t stop, not even for the birth of a child. “It seems like every time we’ve had a baby, there’s also been a cow or horse being born,” Amanda said. “So while we were in Mobile having a baby, there was an animal up here having a baby, too.” The couple’s three children, Drew, 7, Jack, 6, and Cate, 3, enjoy farming, and Amanda said they are starting to appreciate their father’s work. The couple said family is a large part of their success. Amanda is a full-time schoolteacher at Monroe Academy, and her mom watches the children during the school year. Josh’s mom keeps the farm’s books and helps with taxes. His father and other family members help check

The Simpsons Beef Division By Mary Johnson

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osh Simpson learned about beef cattle as a child visiting his mother’s family in north Monroe County on school breaks. “We worked the cows with the dogs, moving them to pasture,” Josh said. “That’s when I got interested in cattle.” His experience and commitment to success with cattle over the years earned his family the honor of being named the Outstanding Young Farm Family in the Beef Division of the Alabama Farmers Federation for 2012. Josh was raised on a row-crop farm. Today, he, his wife, Amanda, and their three children live in his childhood home in Excel. Peanuts and cotton surround the house. A few fields away is the Simpsons’

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Josh and Amanda Simpson and their children, Cate, Jack and Drew.

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on cattle or assist during harvest season. The Simpsons are active in the Monroe County Young Farmers group and the Monroe County Cattleman’s Association. They attend Excel Assembly of God, where Amanda also teaches Sunday school. n

The Looneys

Soybean Division By Melissa Martin

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he son of a farmer, Ben Looney has seen his share of changes in agriculture over the years. Yields and prices fluctuate; the weather remains unpredictable. But through it all, this Limestone County farmer remains thankful for being a farmer, even when harvest seasons look bleak. “If there’s one thing we’ve learned, it’s how to change,” said Ben, adding that the crops grown on his farm also have changed. “When I started farming on my own 15 years ago, I borrowed Dad’s equipment and rented around 200 acres of land for cotton. Today, I’m a landowner.” A few years and nearly 900 acres later, Ben and his wife, Miranda, grow cotton, corn, wheat, soybeans and canola on their 1,100-acre farm in Athens – rotating crops for the best possible harvest. This year, they planted 200 acres of corn, 400 acres of wheat, 100 acres of canola and 400 acres of soybeans. “With the rotation schedule, I can grow five crops in three years,” explains Ben. Among the mix, soybeans have been successful for the Looneys, who are the Outstanding Young

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Ben and Miranda Looney and their sons, Colby and Clay.

Farm Family in the Soybean Division for the Alabama Farmers Federation. But beans aren’t the only things that seem to grow well on their farm. Sons Colby (13 in November) and Clay (7) are growing taller every day. Ben and Miranda say raising the boys on the farm is a blessing. “The best thing about our lifestyle is being able to raise our boys here,” said Miranda, who works with special needs children during the school year. “The values they’re learning… hard work, a love for the land… they’re learning all that on our farm.” For Ben, developing a love for the land originated from his father, Limestone County Farmers Federation President Paul Looney. It’s a

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love he says he’s glad to pass on to his sons. Part of loving the land, Ben adds, is being a good steward. To preserve as much acreage as possible, he practices no-till conservation, which makes the land stronger and more productive. The Looneys are active in Round Island Baptist Church and Tanner Youth Sports. Last year, they helped establish a community garden at Round Island to teach kids where food comes from and to provide food for the hungry. They say they enjoy giving back to their community, but Ben says farming is where his heart is. “I don’t know how I could love my job more than I do,” he said with a smile. n

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What’s Animal Ag Worth to Us? CHECKOFF STUDY SHOWS IMPACT OF ANIMAL AG ON FOOD BILLS, EXPORTS, ECONOMY

If more regulations lead to higher input costs for U.S. poultry and livestock farmers, who would notice? Farmers? Consumers? People who work in the animal ag sector? A recent soy-checkoff-funded study shows everyone would. That study evaluated the impact increased pressures on animal ag could have on the retail price of meat, milk and eggs. It shows that if regulations cause animal-ag input costs to rise by 25 percent, the effects would include: •

AN INCREASE IN CONSUMER FOOD BILLS OF UP TO $16.8 BILLION ANNUALLY.

A $1.1 BILLION DECREASE IN THE VALUE OF U.S. EXPORTS.

A LOSS OF NEARLY 9,000 AMERICAN JOBS.

©2012 United Soybean Board [44277-JA-4/12]

IMPACT REACHES BEYOND RURAL AMERICA

The most recent statistics compiled by the soy checkoff show the U.S. poultry and livestock sectors support 1.8 million jobs and generate more than $289 billion for the U.S. economy annually. “This could have a big impact on everyone – it’s not just the dozen eggs you and I buy at the grocery store,” says United Soybean Board (USB) Chair Vanessa Kummer, a soybean farmer from Colfax, N.D. “The poultry and livestock sectors not only support the U.S. export market, but also make our economy stronger here at home by creating jobs and tax revenue.” YOUR BIGGEST SOY CUSTOMER BEYOND THE ELEVATOR

Animal agriculture continues to be the biggest user of U.S. soy. Poultry, livestock and fish consume 98 percent of the meal from your soybeans. “We have to be sensitive to the issues that poultry and livestock farmers face and try to ensure they can stay in business,” says Lewis Bainbridge, a soybean and cattle farmer from Ethan, S.D., who chairs USB’s Domestic Marketing program. “It’s much easier and more

profitable for us to feed our soybeans to animals here in the United States and export the chicken, pork and beef than it is to load our soybeans onto a ship.” To learn more about why soybean farmers should support their biggest customers beyond the elevator, visit www.BeyondTheElevator.com.

ANIMAL AG USES

98 PERCENT OF U.S. SOYMEAL

SUPPORTS

1.8 MILLION AMERICAN JOBS GENERATES

$289 BILLION FOR THE U.S. ECONOMY

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IMPORTANT CONSUMER INFORMATION: Jitterbug is owned by GreatCall, Inc. Your invoices will come from GreatCall. All rate plans and services require the purchase of a Jitterbug phone and a one-time set up fee of $35. Coverage and service is not available everywhere. Other charges and restrictions may apply. Screen images simulated.There are no additional fees to call Jitterbug’s 24-hour U.S. Based Customer Service. However, for calls to an Operator in which a service is completed, minutes will be deducted from your monthly balance equal to the length of the call and any call connected by the Operator, plus an additional 5 minutes. Monthly rate plans do not include government taxes or assessment surcharges. Prices and fees subject to change. 1We will refund the full price of the Jitterbug phone if it is returned within 30 days of purchase in like-new condition. We will also refund your first monthly service charge if you have less than 30 minutes of usage. If you have more than 30 minutes of usage, a per minute charge of 35 cents will apply for each minute over 30 minutes. The activation fee and shipping charges are not refundable. Jitterbug is a registered trademark of GreatCall, Inc. Samsung is a registered trademark of Samsung Electronics America, Inc. and/or its related entities. Copyright © 2012 GreatCall, Inc. Copyright © 2012 by firstSTREET for Boomers and Beyond, Inc. All rights reserved.

Grains Of Truth: Wheat And Feed Grain Farmers Launch Awareness Campaign By Jeff Helms

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labama wheat and feed grain farmers hope to educate customers about the importance of their crops while dispelling myths through a new public relations campaign, “Grains of Truth.” “Grain crops, such as corn, wheat and oats, are vital to our economic growth, food security and energy independence,” said Alabama Farmers Federation State Wheat & Feed Grains Committee Chairman Stanley Walters of Marengo County. “In recent years, however, corn has been blamed for everything from high feed and food prices to childhood obesity. Through this campaign, we plan to show our fellow farmers and citizens that grain farmers can be valuable partners as we work to strengthen the economy, protect

the environment and feed a growing world.” The Grains of Truth campaign will include colorful print ads, the GrainsOfTruth.net website and educational materials. Topics to be addressed through the promotion include the role of feed grains in supporting Alabama’s multi-billion-dollar livestock and poultry industries; the benefits of renewal fuels like ethanol; and the health benefits of grain-based foods. Corn is the most widely grown crop in the United States, with 12.4 billion bushels grown in 2010. Advanced technology has helped farmers double yields in the last 25 years, and that trend is expected to continue. The National Corn Growers Association estimates U.S. farmers will grow more than 17 billion bushels of corn on 83 million acres by 2020. This year, Alabama farmers

planted 290,000 acres of corn, an increase of 20,000 acres over 2011. The state’s grain farmers also planted 220,000 acres of wheat and 50,000 acres of oats in 2012. Through the “Grains of Truth” campaign, farmers hope to dispel the myth that grain production is managed by big corporations intent on driving up prices. In reality, 95 percent of all U.S. corn farms are family owned. In addition, the campaign will shed light on the fact that corn sweeteners are no higher in calories than any other sweetener and actually have made food more affordable for families. The campaign also will discuss how distillers grains, a byproduct of ethanol production, can be a nutritious and affordable livestock feed. To see more about the promotion, visit GrainsOfTruth.net. n

Stanley Walters

Wheat & Feed Grains Chairman Recognizing there’s truth behind reaping what you sow, row crop farmer Stanley Walters says he does his best to be a good steward of the land. Walters, 57, farms 5,700 acres of corn, soybeans and wheat alongside his son, Clay (30), in Dallas, Perry, Hale and Marengo counties. He also serves as chairman of the Alabama Farmers Federation State Wheat and Feed Grains Committee and is a board member of the Marengo County Farmers Federation. The father-son team primarily grew cotton until 2007, when they switched to mostly grain crops. Despite the change, the Walters continue to pay close attention to their fields. “I heard a long time ago there is no fertilizer better than your tracks in your field,” he recalls. “Being aware of what is happening with your crop helps you know what to do when it’s needed.” Walters is a member of First United Methodist Church in Demopolis.

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By Katie Wendland

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aking honey is hard work, but it’s hard for a farmer to complain with an army of volunteers working tirelessly around the clock producing the golden goodness. Daniel Hutcheson, 31, of Pisgah, has no shortage of workers in his beekeeping business at Creek Bend Meadows. Along with wife, Brandi, and father-inlaw, Rodney Koger, Hutcheson has expanded his Jackson County operation from two to 22 hives in just three years. Hutcheson, chairman of the Jackson County Farmers Federation Bee & Honey Committee, works for the Tennessee Valley Authority, where Koger worked until he retired. Koger said he talked to Daniel and Brandi about it, and the next Father’s Day he became a beekeeper. After that, they learned the ropes and worked to expand. Hutcheson says their success was not a result of their own efforts. “We were fortunate to have some bees given to us in the beginning,” Koger said. “When we got the bees, we had plenty of neighbors and friends who were willing to offer advice and guide us in the right direction.” Hutcheson runs a different kind of beekeeping operation than many people he knows in the business. He says he’s been fortunate that his bees are naturally strong and healthy. Leaving a sufficient amount of honey in the hive for the bees to eat during the winter months ensures food for the brood

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and a strong defense against hive beetles and Varroa mites that can kill the hive. If the honey supply that supports the hives gets low, Hutcheson and Koger buy sugar in 50-pound bags and put pans of sugar water outside the hives for the bees to eat. “A.J. Brown at Valley Head gave me the best start-up advice. He said, ‘Keep the hive strong. That is the best defense they have,’” said Hutcheson. “We try not to medicate them and to let them build immunities, but that doesn’t mean we will never have the need to.” Hutcheson is working to educate surrounding farmers and gardeners about the safe, effective use of pesticides. He sees no problem using them, but wants to ensure the safety of his hives that surround fields and gardens by limiting chemical use. Hutcheson and Koger only sell raw (unheated/ untreated) honey, but hope to sell beeswax candles and honeycombs. “Honey is popular among local residents because it is a proven remedy for allergy problems,” Hutcheson said. Both men consume at least a small amount each day. A teaspoon a day is what Koger recommends. Hutcheson and Koger are gearing up to try their hands at raising queen bees, which they say are hard to find in the Pisgah area and can cost $27 or more. As with any farming business, Hutcheson said he has plenty of highs and lows with beekeeping. He said his favorite thing about having bees is that it allows him to have a constant impact on agriculture. “Most people don’t realize beekeeping is someSSEEPPTTEEM MBBEERR//FFAALLLL 22001122

thing they can do on a quarter of an acre of land,” he said. “Whether they were raised on a farm or not, this is a way for them to have a large impact on agriculture.” Alabama Farmers Federation Bee & Honey Division Director Mac Higginbotham said bees and what they do for farmers are often overlooked. “Agricultural research has proven various crops require different levels of pollination, and pollination is a key factor to increasing yields and determining the quality of crops,” Higginbotham said. “Pollen is not effectively moved by the wind, and some crops are highly dependent on active, pollinating bees.” Hutcheson sells honey in 12- and 24-ounce bottles. He can be reached at dehutcheson@farmerstel.com.

For local honey producers, visit the Alabama Farmers Federation’s Bee & Honey Producers’ page at www. alfafarmers.org/commodities/bee_honey. phtml. n

SEE MORE OF THIS STORY YouTube.com/ AlabamaFarmersFed OR SCAN THIS QR CODE

Sweet Facts

k There are more than 9,000 bee colonies in Alabama, with beekeepers in all 67 counties. k One-third of a human’s diet is pollinated by insects, 80 percent of which are honeybees. k Alabama-produced crops totally or mostly dependent on honeybees for pollination include watermelons, apples, blueberries, cantaloupes, peaches, pumpkins, blackberries, grapes, persimmons, strawberries, cucumbers, honeydew, pears, plums and sunflowers. k 10 pounds of honey yield 1 pound of wax. k Pollination in Alabama is valued from $45-$90 million. k Primary plants in Alabama that attract honeybees are sourwood, gallberry, clover, tulip poplar, soybeans and cotton. Beekeeper Daniel Hutcheson of Pisgah, kneels beside his honeybee hive and watches worker bees fly in and out as they search for nectar. His father-in-law, Rodney Koger, holding the smoker, helped introduce him to beekeeping. Both men say they were fortunate to have the guidance of experienced beekeepers willing to teach them the business. SSEEPPTTEEM MBBEERR//FFAALLLL 22001122

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A Towering View Of Lake Martin By Mary Johnson

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inety-seven winding and turning steps climb 80 feet up toward the cabin of the Smith Mountain Fire Tower. Those brave enough to endure the climb are rewarded with breathtaking views of Lake Martin and its surrounding forests and rocky cliffs. “I told the kids we’re going on an adventure today, so get out of bed and let’s go,” Leigh Clark said on a recent visit to the newly renovated tower. Clark, along with her husband, William, and their daughter, travel from Havana, Fla., to vacation at the lake each year with their friends Thomas and Wendy Shepard and their three children. The fire tower and the associated one-mile hiking trail are the newest additions to the Cherokee Ridge Alpine Trail Association (CRATA) and are open to the public. For the past three years, CRATA worked to acquire and restore this piece of Alabama history. Originally built in 1939, the tower was part of Alabama’s fire management system. The Alabama Forestry Commission purchased the property from Alabama Power Co. for $5 that year. Forest rangers kept watch from the tower, spotting smoke and potential forest fires, until it was decommissioned in 1980. Since then, the tower sat empty. The lowest three levels of stairs were removed to keep trespassers away. In 2006, the Alabama Power Co. bought back the land for $10, w w w. A l f a F a r m e r s . o r g

and the following year, the tower was damaged by a forest fire. The integrity of the structure remained intact, but the lowest levels of the tower were discolored with a few bowed metal pieces. The idea to restore the tower came from CRATA Treasurer and former President Jimmy K. Lanier of Eclectic. He headed up the effort to obtain the land for the cost of $1. (The Alabama Power Co. later returned the dollar.) After more than 18 months of collecting donations, replacing steps, reinforcing braces and ensuring the overall safety of the structure, the Smith Mountain Fire Tower opened for visitors in June. With volunteers from CRATA and the Dadeville Methodist Men’s Group, in-kind donations and reusing pieces of the tower, the renovation came in under budget. CRATA volunteer Mike Wilson of Tallassee overcame a fear of heights while working on the tower as he and Lanier replaced the roof and floor of the cabin. “I enjoyed (volunteering) because I can see my accomplishments, and that really brings me satisfaction,” Wilson said. Lanier and volunteers will stay busy atop Smith Mountain as CRATA also plans to rebuild the original forestry office, which was dismantled when the site was decommissioned. The goal is to turn the office into a museum, housing items from the tower that include a piece of burnt metal from 22

From left: William Clark and Thomas Shepard of Havana, Fla.,, visit with CRATA’s Jimmy K. Lanier and Mike Wilson in the cabin of the Smith Mountain Fire Tower. Clark and Shepard vacation at Lake Martin each year and brought their families on “a hiking adventure” to visit the tower.

the Smith Mountain fire and the $1 returned by the power company. The property may have never fetched a large price on the real estate market, but the hiking and viewing experiences afforded by the Smith Mountain Fire Tower are priceless. The trailhead for the Smith Mountain hiking trail is accessible from Tower Road off Smith Mountain Drive near Dadeville. n S E P T E M B E R / FA L L 2 0 1 2

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G R A I N S 0f T R U T H Alabama Wheat and Feed Grain Farmers grow food, fuel and freedom. Their harvest helps feed Alabama’s multi-million-dollar livestock, catfish and poultry industries while reducing America’s dependence on foreign countries for energy and food. By combining their strength with farmers of other commodities, feed grain growers are fueling the economic growth of Alabama communities.

WHEAT & FEED GRAIN PRODUCERS GrainsOfTruth.net

Will Pearce

Catfish Chairman West Alabama may be known for its famous Black Belt soil, but it’s really the water that puts the region on the map – just ask Dallas County catfish farmer Will Pearce. Pearce, 38, has been around catfish his entire life. His father, David, established Pearce Catfish Farm in the ‘70s. Since then, he and his brother, David Jr., have taken over the 1,400-acre farm. In addition to managing the farm, Pearce serves as chairman of the Alabama Catfish Producers, a division of the Alabama Farmers Federation. Though farming is what he loves, Pearce said it isn’t always an easy job. “We are facing very challenging times,” he said, “but farming has provided a good living for my family, as well as some jobs for people in surrounding areas.” Pearce and his wife, Beth, are members of Church Street Methodist Church in Selma. They have three children: daughters Anne Frances (7), Libby (5) and Milly (19 months).

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Is the Only Good Snake a Dead Snake? By Chas Moore, Wildlife Biologist, Alabama Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries

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ost people have an innate fear of snakes, believing the only good snake is a dead snake. These ophidiophobes (people with a fear of snakes) are under the impression that no snake is beneficial and, as a result, instinctively kill every snake they see. In actuality, most snakes are docile, non-aggressive creatures that serve a vital role in nature. Though all snakes are carnivorous, they eat only other smaller animals and, depending on the snake’s species, consume a wide range of prey. Most snakes readily eat rodents such as mice and rats, while others prey on insects. Who doesn’t want fewer mice, rats and bugs around? If it weren’t for snakes, many areas would be overrun with these pests. Snakes are also beneficial to farmers. They help keep rodent populations down in seed or grain storage areas, barns, gardens, fields and homes. King snakes even eat other snakes, including venomous snake species such as rattlesnakes. Unless they are provoked, snakes in North America will not attack. Contrary to popular belief, snakes usually have to be picked up, cornered, stepped on or harmed in some way to provoke a strike. The snake’s first response is almost always to flee rather than strike. Of all the snake species found in Alabama, only six are venomous. These include pit vipers like Timber Snakes, Eastern Diamondbacks and Pygmy Rattlesnakes, Copperheads and Cottonmouths, as well as the Coral Snake. Anyone who spends time in the outdoors should learn to identify these snakes and avoid them. Pit vipers have heatw w w. A l f a F a r m e r s . o r g

sensing pits on their heads, which help them locate warm-blooded prey. They have triangular shaped heads and stout, robust bodies. Non-venomous snakes have heads that are not much larger than the rest of the body. Coral snakes are small, secretive snakes that live mainly underneath rotting logs and leaf litter, where they search for insects. They are rarely encountered by humans, yet are easily identified by their coloration. Coral snakes typically have alternating rings of red, yellow and black on their bodies. Old sayings such as “red on yellow will kill a fellow,” “red on black-poison lack,” or “red on black-friend of Jack” help people to distinguish the venomous coral snake from other similarly colored non-venomous snake species such as the Scarlet King Snake. If an unknown snake species is encountered, it is best to simply leave it alone. People are bitten each year while attempting to kill a snake, which puts the snake in an understandably aggressive mood. Some are bitten when they pick up a snake they think is dead. While no one wants a venomous snake around their house or yard, it’s best to leave snakes alone. Venomous snakes serve an important role in the ecosystem, just like the nonvenomous species. If bitten by a venomous snake, it is important not to panic. Snake bite victims should be taken to 26

a hospital as quickly as possible. Most snake bite victims do not die if treated in a reasonable amount of time. In fact, more people are killed each year in North America from bee stings than from venomous snake bites. The best way to avoid attracting snakes around homes is to remove anything that may attract prey such as mice, rats, chipmunks and insects. Remove any wood, lumber or brush piles from around yards, and keep lawns and fields mowed regularly. Keep fence rows clean of unnecessary brush and tall grass. De-clutter storage areas such as basements, out-buildings or sheds, and keep livestock feed or grain stored in metal, sealed containers. In the future, don’t be so quick to kill every snake. Leave them alone, and they will go away. Exchange the fear for respect, and be satisfied knowing they are helping to reduce the numbers of disease-carrying rats, mice and insects. The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources promotes wise stewardship, management and enjoyment of Alabama’s natural resources through five divisions: Marine Police, Marine Resources, State Lands, State Parks, and Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries. To learn more about ADCNR visit www. outdooralabama.com. n

____________________________________ Corn snake photo courtesy of Richard Dowling. S E P T E M B E R / FA L L 2 0 1 2

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Rocket City Rednecks Take Southern Style To Hollywood By Mary Johnson

“I knew from the start exactly who I wanted to be in the show,” Travis said. “I knew there was an opportunity for a show centering around us as we hang out and experiment. We get together on the weekends and attack a project. It has been so much fun!” In addition to Travis, the cast includes four other men with various skill sets. Charles Taylor, Travis’s father, is retired from General Motors and worked for NASA in the late ‘60s. Michael Taylor, Travis’s nephew, owns a landscaping business. Dr. Pete Erbach, Travis’s brother-in-law, is an optical physicist for Polaris Sensor Technologies, Inc., and rounding out the crew is Travis’s best friend, Rog Jones. During the show’s first season, the guys used their ingenuity and know-how to tackle projects like building military-style truck armor out of beer cans and constructing a cost-efficient, above-ground tornado shelter. When the cast created a submarine out of a fertilizer tank and beer kegs, even those watching from the shoreline held their breath as the vessel started sinking rapidly with Travis and Michael inside. The two were able to get out, and the episode — “20,000 Kegs Under the Sea” — remains a favorite for most of the cast. In the second season — scheduled to air in late

I

n a grove of pine trees a few miles off the beaten path in Somerville sits a quaint brick house with a large front porch. Mary Taylor, who spent the morning making cookies, sits in one of the many rocking chairs watching her husband, Charles, and her son, Travis, wave at the cars passing by. The scene has all the makings of a peaceful Saturday morning at the Morgan County home. That is until Charles, Travis and their friends go out to the street and ignite the rocket fuel cylinders they’ve attached to two toy cars. Smoke, sparks and a loud explosion rock the once-serene environment. As a film crew rushes into the woods across the street to get the best shot of the crumbled cars, it’s become ‘just another weekend’ for the stars of National Geographic Channel’s show, “Rocket City Rednecks.” “That was an experiment to show you don’t really want to be sitting in a car powered by rocket fuel,” says Michael Taylor, Travis’s nephew. “Because if you are, that’s the end of it.” Point taken. The show is led by Travis, a research scientist for the military and NASA, who felt there was a gap to fill in television programming. Their solution? A show that used science to explain how things work and was fun to watch.

Pete Erbach, Travis Taylor, Charles Taylor, Rog Jones and Michael Taylor make-up the cast of Rocket City Rednecks. With their national television show, the guys make science fun and use true Southern ingenuity to solve problems.

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September or early October — Travis and the guys will continue to use their national “Rocket City Rednecks” platform to reclaim the true meaning of redneck, changing it from an insult to a compliment. “Some people think redneck is a derogatory term,” Rog said. “But it’s not to us. I have no qualms about being called a redneck, because I am one.” When Travis first presented the show’s name to the network, officials were skeptical and afraid it could be offensive. Travis insisted that historically, the term described someone who worked outside and was never meant to be derisive. The other fellas liked the name too. “I like to say there are rednecks all over the country,” Pete said. “Anyone who has that strength of independence, rebelliousness, ingenuity and a sense of community and responsibility... as far as I’m concerned, they’re rednecks too.”

Charles said viewers in other parts of the country are often surprised people with Southern accents can be so intelligent. “We know things that might surprise some people,” he said. “We want to just tell folks, next time you talk to a redneck, you might want to do a lot of listening.” To learn more about the show, or to watch clips from the first season, visit http://channel.nationalgeographic.com/channel/rocket-city-rednecks. n

On weekends, Charles Taylor’s garage plays double-duty as a science laboratory. For this episode, the guys demonstrate the destructive effects of using rocket fuel to power an automobile on a small-scale using two toy cars.

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Auburn University To Host Ag Discovery Adventure By Miranda Mattheis

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he Auburn University College of Agriculture wants to close the gap between consumers and agriculture and raise the understanding of how food is produced. The College of Ag, the Alabama Ag Experiment Station and the Alabama Cooperative Extension System are joining forces in that effort by hosting the first-ever “Ag Discovery Adventure: A Window to the Future.” The free event will be Sept. 29 at the E.V. Smith Research Center in Shorter from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and offers Alabamians an up-close look at 21st century agriculture. Ag Discovery Adventure includes hay rides, high-tech treasure hunts, a corn maze, precision agriculture displays, milking demonstrations and more. The events will introduce consumers of all ages

and backgrounds to the world of agriculture, from crop and animal production to bioenergy and sustainability. Lisa Kriese-Anderson, Extension

specialist and associate professor in the Department of Animal Science, said the theme of Ag Discovery Adventure is “consumers meet agriculture.” “This is where we begin to have an honest dialogue with consumers about where their food comes from and where they need to go to find factual information,” she said. John Fulton, Extension specialist and associate professor in biosystems engineering, added that the

hands-on experiences for attendees will introduce them to the various aspects of agriculture production and modern technology used in farming. “We hope to excite the public about agriculture in the United States while educating them on the science and technology used to produce food, fiber, feed and energy,” Fulton said. Sponsors for the event include Alabama Cotton Producers, Alabama Soybean Producers and Alabama Wheat and Feed Grain Producers, all divisions of the Alabama Farmers Federation. To learn more, visit AgDiscoveryAdventure.com, or contact (334) 844-5887 or agcomm@auburn.edu. The 3,816-acre E.V. Smith Research Center is located at Exit 26 on Interstate 85, between Montgomery and Auburn. n

COUNTY ANNUAL MEETINGS Macon Tue., Sept. 4, 6pm Beck’s Turf, Tuskegee Perry

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Crenshaw Thu., Sept. 13, 6:30pm Turner Park, Luverne Winston Thu., Sept. 13, 6:30pm Traders and Farmers Bank Double Springs Marengo Tue., Sept. 18, 6:30pm Alfa Office, Linden w w w. A l f a F a r m e r s . o r g

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By Lois Chaplin

P

omegranates are marketed in grocery stores as “the power fruit,” and they’re listed as the key ingredient in many refreshing drinks. Despite their exotic look, a bulk of the pomegranates consumed nationwide are grown domestically. Health-conscious folks enjoy them for their juice-filled “seeds,” which are high in fiber and Vitamin C. Pomegranates are also packed with potassium, zinc and magnesium. While they do provide sufficient nutrients, pomegranates are also a perfect plant for Alabama gardeners who don’t have time for pruning. Cultivated for centuries and often referenced in the Bible, pomegranates are native to the Middle East. Today, they grow well in Alabama because of their tolerance to the state’s mild winters and hot summers. A pomegranate plant is a multistemmed, deciduous shrub with

glossy, bright green leaves and very bright, deep red-orange flowers that open in spring. The flowers are followed by the fruit, which grow through the summer months and mature in late September or early October. The shrub drops leaves in winter except along the coast, where they may be semi-evergreen, especially during a mild winter. Plants are self-fruitful, so only one is needed for pollination. Easy to grow, pomegranate plants typically reach 8- to 12-feet tall, but they can be pruned lower for ease of reach. Because it fruits on new wood, you can tip-prune branches and cut away the old stems at the base every few years to encourage new growth. Keep the base thinned to five or six strong canes. Like other fruit trees, pomegranates need full sun and well-drained soil. They’re also known to tolerate some alkaline, even slightly salty soil, so gardeners near the coast shouldn’t exclude these trees from their yards. Give each pomegranate tree room to spread

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its arching branches — at least 68-feet in diameter — plus enough clearance to reach the branches for harvest. It’s important to keep the newly planted shrubs wellwatered; after a couple of years in the ground, pomegranate plants are very drought tolerant, which is no surprise given where they are native. Older trees hold fruit better than younger ones, so be patient if some fruit drops off in the first three years. This should stop as the plant ages. Once the plant is well established, it will live for many years. Gardeners should also be prepared to protect young blooms or fruit from cold if the weather blasts plants with a frost after the blooms open. Fall is a good time to shop for pomegranate trees, and it’s also a good time to plant them. When shopping, be sure to ask for a fruiting type, as there is an ornamental species that does not fruit. Gardeners should also look for varieties that are adapted to Alabama. The Alabama Cooperative Extension System’s fruit bulletin recommends Wonderful, which is the most wellknown commercial plant. Petals from the Past, an Alabama nursery in Jemison known for its work with fruit, offers six varieties: Cloud and White, which produce a light colored juice; Mulan, Rafi, Russian and Granada, which are much more red inside. Russian types are cold hardy, tolerating temperatures as low as 8 degrees. Each of these types need about 500 chilling hours — the number of hours below 45 degrees to which the plants are exposed. Pomegranates keep for weeks after harvesting, allowing fans of the fruit to enjoy a delicious treat well into the winter months. n _________________________________

Lois Chaplin is an accomplished gardener and author. Her work appears here courtesy of Alabama Farmers Cooperative.

WWW.ALAFARM.COM 34

S E P T E M B E R / FA L L 2 0 1 2

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Honey Pac

ked Peaches 2-3/4 cups wat er, divided 1/4 cup lemon juice 5 pounds peac hes*, peeled, pi tted and cut in wedges to 1-1/4 cups hone y 2 tablespoons vanilla extrac t 6 small strips lemon zest

By Debra Davis

In a large bow l, mix 1/4 cu lemon juice. p water and Stir fruit in ge ntly, coating all pieces. Se t aside. In a sm all saucepan, bring honey and remainin g w ater to a boil Remove from . heat; stir in va nilla. Cover pan to keep co ntents hot. P ack fruit gen into 6 hot ster tly ilized pint ja rs , filling to 1/ inch from to 4 p of jar, and pl ace a piece of lemon zest in each jar. Fill jars with hon mixture up to ey 1/4 inch from tops. Wipe rims of jars; to p with lids. Sc re Place jars on rack in cannin w on bands. g kettle of hot water, adding water if neces sary to bring water level to 1 inch above tops of jars. Bring water to a rolling boil ; boil for 25 minutes. Rem ove jars carefu ll a wire rack. *A y and cool on pricots or nec tarines may be substituted.

w w w. A l f a F a r m e r s . o r g

36

S

eptember is National Honey Month, a time for the spotlight to shine on Mother Nature’s natural sweetener. The rich taste is often a favorite substitute for sugar in morning coffee. It can offer relief from seasonal allergies, and it’s even thought to have some amazing antiseptic and skin healing properties. But for beekeeper Bill Mullins, the tempting taste gets his day started off right and keeps him healthy. “I guess the best thing for me about honey is that I think it keeps me well,” said Mullins, who turned 77 last month. “Every day, I drink a mixture of an ounce of apple cider vinegar, an ounce of honey and 8 ounces of water. I’ve done that for 37 years, and I’ve only had two colds.” The Madison County resident is chairman of the Alabama Farmers Federation State Bee & Honey Committee. He said he likes honey on his oatmeal with raisins every morning. When he’s extracting honey produced on his farm, he enjoys chewing the natural wax comb flavored with honey. “I like everything about bees and honey,” said Mullins. “Being out in nature and watching the bees, you learn something new all the time.” Aside from the health benefits, Mullins said he enjoys honey mixed with chopped pecans served over ice cream. Enjoy a few of Mullins’ favorite recipes in this month’s Country Kitchen, along with some recipes from the National Honey Board. For more recipes, see the Honey Board’s website at Honey.com. For a list of Alabama honey producers, visit AlfaFarmers.org, click on the Commodities tab, then Bee & Honey. S E P T E M B E R / FA L L 2 0 1 2

Honey Oatmeal Cookies

Yield: 3 dozen ½ cup shortening 1 cup honey 1 egg 1-1/2 cup sifted flour ½ teaspoon soda ½ teaspoon salt 1-2/3 cut oatmeal 4 tablespoons milk ½ cup chopped peanuts 1 cup raisins

Cream shortening. Add honey and blend. Stir in egg. Sift dry ingredients together; add oatmeal. Add dry ingredients alternately with milk to shortening and honey mixture. Stir in raisins. Drop by spoonful on a greased pan or baking sheet. Bake at 350 F for 15 minutes. Firecracker Shrimp

Servings: 4 1/3 cup honey 1/4 cup soy sauce 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar 2 teaspoons cornstarch 2 teaspoons grated orange peel 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste 1 tablespoon vegetable oil 4 cloves garlic, minced 2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger 1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped 1 cup snow peas, cut into 1-inch pieces 1-1/2 pounds shrimp, peeled and de veined 3 green onions, cut into 1-inch pieces 6 cups cooked white rice, optional

In small bowl, whisk together honey, soy sauce, vinegar, cornstarch, orange peel and red pepper flakes until thoroughly mixed and cornstarch is dissolved. Set aside. Heat oil in wok or large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Stir in garlic and ginger; stir-fry until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add bell pepper and snow peas; stir-fry 1 minute until crisp-tender. Add shrimp and green onions; stir-fry until shrimp just turns pink, about 1 minute. Stir in reserved soy sauce mixture; cook and stir until sauce boils and thickens. Serve over cooked rice, if desired.

Bee Sweet Banana Bread Makes 1 loaf

1/2 cup honey 1/3 cup butter or margarine 1 teaspoon vanilla 2 eggs 1/2 cup all-purpose flour 3/4 cup whole wheat flour 1/2 cup quick-cooking oats 1 teaspoon baking powder 1/2 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg 1 cup mashed ripe banana 1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Cream honey and butter in large bowl with electric mixer until fluffy. Beat in vanilla. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition, Combine dry ingredients in small bowl; add to honey mixture alternately with bananas, blending well. Stir in walnuts. Spoon batter into greased and floured 9-x5-x3-inch loaf pan. Bake in preheated 325 F oven 50-to-55 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted near center comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack 15 minutes. Remove from pan; cool completely on a wire rack. Honey Picante Chicken Wings

Servings: 24-30 1/2 cup honey 1/2 cup prepared picante sauce 2 cloves garlic, minced 1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce 2 pounds chicken wings, tips removed Salt and pepper, to taste

Microwave honey in a 1-quart microwave-safe container at high (100 percent) 4-to-5 minutes or until honey boils and thickens. Stir in remaining ingredients except chicken wings; microwave at high 4-to-5 minutes. Cut wings in half at joint; arrange wings in shallow baking dish. Bake at 350 F for 15 minutes. Raise temperature to 375 F. Turn each piece, brush generously with sauce in pan and bake 45 minutes longer or until glazed and completely cooked, turning chicken and brushing with sauce every 15 minutes.

Broiled Lemon-Honey Chicken Breasts

Servings: 4 1/4 cup honey 1/4 cup lemon juice 2 teaspoons vegetable oil 1 teaspoon rosemary, crushed 1 teaspoon grated lemon peel 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/8 teaspoon pepper 4 (3 1/2-to-4 ounces each) boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Combine all ingredients (except chicken) and mix well. Marinate chicken in honey-lemon mixture 1 hour in shallow baking dish. Broil chicken 5 minutes, brush with pan drippings, turn and broil 5 minutes longer or until juices run clear. If desired, bring marinade to a boil; simmer 2 minutes. Strain hot marinade over chicken. Classic Honey Mustard Dressing

Makes 2-1/2 cups 1-1/4 cups fat-free mayonnaise 1/3 cup honey 1 tablespoon vinegar 2/3 cup vegetable oil 1 teaspoon onion flakes 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley 2 tablespoons prepared mustard

In small bowl, whisk together all ingredients until blended. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Bees in the Garden Coleslaw Makes 8 to 10 servings 1 head green cabbage, shredded 1 green bell pepper, diced 1/2 cup sweet red pepper, diced 1/2 cup mayonnaise 1/3 cup honey 2 tablespoons vinegar 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard 1/2 teaspoon celery seed 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Toss cabbage and peppers in large bowl. Combine mayonnaise, honey, vinegar, salt, mustard, celery seed and black pepper in medium bowl, then toss with cabbage mixture. Mix well; cover and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled. n

Editor’s Note: Recipes published in the “Country Kitchen” are not kitchen-tested prior to publication. Visit www.AlfaFarmers.org for more recipes. S E P T E M B E R / FA L L 2 0 1 2

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September 2012 Neighbors Magazine