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Neighbors A Publication of the Alabama Farmers Federation

VOLUME 36, NUMBER 8

AUGUST 2011

The Wonder Of Water The Southeast could be the sweet spot in the nation for meeting the growing global demand for food, and irrigation could be the key. • 16

Outstanding Young Farmers Meet five outstanding young farm families who were chosen as winners in their respective commodity divisions. • 5

Poultry Camp For Kids Young students flocked to Auburn University this

ON THE COVER A scientist studying climate and water use in the Southeast says irrigation could be the cheapest form of crop insurance. — Photo by Mike Moody

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summer to learn about the prospects of poultry science. • 14

Farm Bill Plans U.S. Rep. Martha Roby, R-Ala., hears from farmers about what they want in the 2012 farm bill. • 22

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DEPARTMENTS 4

President’s Message

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Alabama Gardener

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Country Kitchen

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Classifieds

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M G K P

President’s

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n 1921 — the year the Alabama Farmers Federation was founded — about 30 percent of Americans were farmers. Today, lessardener than 1 perAlabama cent claim farming as their occupation. In fact, only about 2 percent of U.S. citizens live on farms, and most are two to three generations removed from agriculture. As Country itchen a result, few people understand how farmers produce our food and fiber. For many, a “farmer” isMarket some Norman lace Rockwell image of Jerry Newby a middle-aged man milking a cow or holding a sickle. And, a “family farm” is a white frame house with chickens roaming in the yard surrounded by a few acres of vegetables. When this idyllic picture conflicts with the reality of modern production agriculture, it can create a public relations crisis. The hardworking family with four poultry houses gets labeled as a “factory farm.” The farmer who uses crop protection materials to control invasive weeds and destructive insects is accused of harming the environment. And, the farm business that grows under the watchful management of a successful farmer is criticized for turning a profit. To counter these misconceptions, organizations like the Farmers Federation continually work to tell the farmer’s story. Unfortunately, those spreading misinformation are equally dedicated to their cause. Groups like the Human Society of the United States (HSUS), Environmental Working Group, Mercy for Animals and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) have well-funded public relations machines and often work together in attacking farmers. Meanwhile, the ever-shrinking farm population is left to defend itself on a growing number of battlefronts. Until recently, however, there has not been a unified effort to proactively educate the public about present-day agriculture. w w w. A l f a F a r m e r s . o r g

VOLUME 36, NUMBER 8

essage

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That’s where the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance (USFRA) comes in. Formed in 2010 and chaired by American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman, the USFRA’s mission is to increase consumers’ trust in modern food production and maintain the freedom of U.S. farmers and ranchers to operate in a responsible manner. The USFRA already includes more than 40 producer organizations including those representing egg, milk, pork, sheep, soybean, sugar, beef, wheat, poultry, corn, cotton, peanut and vegetable farmers. The Alabama Farmers Federation is proud to be a member of this collaborative effort, and we look forward to working with other farm groups to enhance public opinion of agriculture. One of the first projects of the USFRA is the launch of a communications and educational campaign this summer aimed at building on the rich history of American agriculture while showcasing the dedication today’s farmers share for producing safe, affordable food. The campaign also will illustrate the steps food takes on its journey from the farm to the table. This is extremely important work because there are fewer farmers today than ever before. If we don’t speak with a unified voice, those intent on spreading misinformation will continue to mount massive public relations attacks against us — one state, one commodity and one farm at a time. Today’s farmers may not look exactly like the images in children’s storybooks, but we still share the same values and commitment to stewardship as our forefathers. Through the USFRA and the Federation’s other communications efforts, we can build on the heritage of American agriculture while painting a clearer picture of the men and women who feed our world. For more information about the USFRA, visit usfraonline.org. n 4

Debra Davis, Editor Mike Moody, Graphic Designer 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 Donnie Garrett, Centre Darrel Haynes, Cullman John E. Walker III, Berry Marshall Prickett, Wellington Richard Edgar, Deatsville Dickie Odom, Boligee Garry Henry, Hope Hull Carl Sanders, Brundidge David Bitto, Elberta Sammy Williams, Columbia Debbie Freeland, Grand Bay Ben Haynes, Cullman 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. Classified ad and 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 36191-0001. www.AlfaFarmers.org A member of American Farm Bureau Federation NEIGHBORS • AUGUST 2011


Sponsored each year by the Alabama Farmers Federation, the Outstanding Young Farm Family Awards Program recognizes young farmers between the ages of 17 and 35 who do an outstanding job in farm, home and community activities. Division winners representing 12 commodities were selected in February. Of those, six finalists will compete for the title of overall Outstanding Young Farm Family for 2011. The winner, who will be named at the Federation’s 90th Annual Meeting in December, will receive a John Deere Gator courtesy of Alabama Ag Credit and Alabama Farm Credit, a personal computer package courtesy of ValCom/CCS Wireless, the use of a new vehicle and other prizes. The winner will go on to represent Alabama at the American Farm Bureau contest. This month, Neighbors profiles five commodity division winners. Look for features on the six finalists in the coming months. By Jillian Clair

The Griffins

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amie and Amy Griffin don’t run their cattle operation and equine boarding facility because it makes them rich. For them, it’s all about the lifestyle. Jamie and Amy have a daughter, Sawyer, who is almost 2, and another baby is due to arrive in February. Raising their daughter around animals is one of Jamie’s favorite aspects of running a farm. “Sawyer loves it more than anything,” Jamie said. “The first thing she says to me when I get home from work is, ‘Cows and horses, cows and horses,’ and she just wants to get on the golf cart and ride around and be with the animals. I love being able to raise her up like I was raised.” The Griffin family has owned the farm Jamie, Amy and Sawyer live on for more than 100 years. Although Jamie has a full-time NEIGHBORS • AUGUST 2011

Beef and Equine job as the manager of Mid-State Farmers Co-op, he said he has always wanted to have a legitimate cattle operation on the farm. “Growing up, we always had cows, but we had them basically just to have them out in the field,” Jamie said. “But the older I got, the more I got into it. Now, we make enough

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profit to pay for the upkeep of the property.” Jamie said he is pleased with his operation, but he wants to thin out his herd and be able to have cattle from a higher quality bloodline in the future. Horses are also part of the Griffins’ farm lifestyle. Six years ago while Jamie was in college, his grandfather suggested he repair an old barn on the property and use it as an equine boarding facility. Now, the Griffins board from 10 to 18 horses at a time. Jamie said they want to keep it small. “We don’t want to be a big, wellknown facility,” Jamie said. “I’ve had people from California and New York come and board temporarily, but I want to make it more of a hometown deal. I want it to be a really nice, small, family atmosphere with me and my wife and my kids.” w w w. A l f a F a r m e r s . o r g


Isaac Jones

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ighteen-year-old Isaac Jones has been around dairy cows his entire life, but he is leaving milking behind. Instead, he wants to raise cows that produce more milk. Jones was raised on a dairy farm in Centre that was passed down to his mother, who ran the farm with her sister. “I am grateful she raised me this way,” Jones said. “I wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s just great being raised on a farm—you get to see nature at work, working for your money instead of just mooching, and it’s just better to see the fruits of your labor. My mom’s a really hard worker, and she taught me that work

Dairy ethic—I’ll have that forever.” Recently, Jones’ mother sold her dairy cattle and is trying her hand in the beef cattle market instead.

Michael Eberhart Jr.

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hen he was six years old, John Michael Eberhart Jr.’s father jokingly asked him to round up some heifers and put them in a pen. A few minutes later, his mother looked out the window, and to her surprise, those heifers were in the pen. “I just wasn’t afraid to get around cows as a kid,” Eberhart said. “And since then, I’ve just grown more toward it. I still learn stuff about it everyday.” Now, at 18, Eberhart owns 30 of his own cattle and harvests hay to feed them. He also harvests hay for Straight Creek Farm, where his father has been manager for 29 years. “I’ve always thought it was neat to be around cows, and the more I learned about the hay and stuff, the more I started doing things on my own,” Eberhart w w w. A l f a F a r m e r s . o r g

“I want to come back to the farm and start a dairy herd doing embryonic transplants,” Jones said. “I want to stay in the dairy business, but I don’t necessarily want to milk. If I can produce some top quality cows that produce more milk and sell them to dairy farmers, that would be ideal.” Jones, who graduated high school in May, will attend Auburn University in the fall to pursue a degree in animal science with a minor in agricultural engineering. Jones said he plans to attend graduate school and obtain a master’s degree in livestock embryonics.

Hay & Forage said. “I wanted to go into it a little further on my own, so now most of the hay we cut at Straight Creek Farm I do myself.” Eberhart, who graduated from Fort Payne High School in May,

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plans to pursue a college degree in farm and ranch management. After college, Eberhart said he would like to settle down near his family and run a farm of his own.

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The Doles

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or Mike and Teresa Dole, owning meat goats began as a solution for maintaining pastures where cattle once roamed, but now, goats are the Doles’ livestock of choice. The couple and their children, Katie Sue, 8, Henry, 3 and Evelyn, 2, live on a small farm in Ashville that Mike’s father purchased during his childhood. It was used for cattle until Mike’s father had an accident in 2005 and couldn’t continue working with cattle. “When we sold the cattle after my dad’s accident, I wanted to have something to keep in the pastures, and that’s when we looked into goats,” Mike said. “The selling price of goats is actually really high, so it’s a great commodity to get into.”

Meat Goat & Sheep The Doles own a breeding herd of Kiko and Spanish Boer meat goats, and their farm has helped establish meat goats as a budding

The Clecklers

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hen Jason Cleckler married his wife, Leslie, he got more than in-laws—he got a bunch of birds. Quail, pheasants and chukars, to be exact. Leslie’s father has owned a game bird operation for more than 20 years, and Jason was invited to join the business. “I left a desk job to come out here, and I love the difference,” Jason said. “I love being outside working. I can’t say I don’t have a boss – my customers are my bosses – but for the most part, I just take care of the animals and do what I need to do. It’s a whole different world, and I like it.” Most of the 150,000 birds Jason, his father-in-law and his cousin raise are sold to hunting preserves in Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee and Georgia. Jason said ensuring the health NEIGHBORS • AUGUST 2011

commodity in the state. Mike and Teresa’s desire to raise their children around animals also contributed to their decision to get into the meat goat business. “My kids really enjoy the goats,” Mike said. “It’s great for them because they can get some hands-on experience with animals as opposed to working with cows—they’re too big.” Unfortunately, the April tornadoes affected the Doles’ operation, and they are trying to replenish losses to their herd. Mike said he is optimistic, but regardless of the outcome of his goat operation, he will continue working in the agriculture industry. “I grew up with agriculture, and it’s what I love,” Mike said.

Wildlife of the birds is a top priority. “We make an extra effort to make sure our birds are healthy,” Jason said. “They’re being put out in the wild, and they’re given an

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opportunity to live out in the wild, so it’s different from raising chickens or other birds like that.”

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Alabama Farmers Federation Equips Next Generation With Leadership By Jillian Clair

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xperienced farmers aren’t the only leaders in Alabama agriculture. More than 100 high school students from 27 counties around the state showed off their leadership abilities and learned new ways to implement those skills June 10 – 12 during the Alabama Farmers Federation’s annual Youth Leadership Conference at the Alabama 4-H Center in Columbiana. “The students were challenged to think about the important leadership roles they hold within their schools, churches Ben Haynes, the Farmers Federation’s Young Farmers Committee chairman, right, talks with, and communities,” said from left, Madison Tew of Dale County, Haley Hicks of Montgomery County and Deontre Brandon Moore, director Hollis of Lamar County at the Alabama Farmers Federation’s Youth Leadership Conference of the Alabama FarmJune 10–12 at the Alabama 4-H Center in Chilton County. ers Federation’s Young Farmers Division and Small groups of students repreNewman inspired the delegates organizer of the conference. “Delsented each of the 17 commodities with a patriotic message as she egates also came away from the in Alabama, and by the end of the recalled her experiences living weekend with a better understandgame, the students gathered into under the Nazi regime, later under ing of where their food comes from two groups to more effectively mar- communism, and finally her life as and the people who produce it as a ket their commodities. a proud U.S. citizen and the wife of result of great speakers, activities Correcting students’ misconcep- a U.S. Army officer. and interactive workshops on the tions about agriculture was a large Newman emphasized the cost importance of agriculture.” part of the conference as well. of freedom and the importance of Moore said this year’s confer“These kids are at a very impres- getting involved in the democratic ence was geared not only toward sionable age – hopefully an age in process. teaching delegates more about which we can tell them some things Steve Lawrence, a student from agriculture, but also toward educatthey don’t know and correct some Autauga County High School, said ing them about the importance of misinformation,” said Ben Haynes, his favorite aspect of the conference participation in professional orgathe Alabama Farmers Federation’s was meeting other students from nizations and associations like the Young Farmers Committee chairaround the state. Alabama Farmers Federation. man. “There are a lot fewer of them Lawrence, who is passionate “Regardless of what career path that understand where their food, about public speaking, said he also they choose, there are industry and fiber and fuel comes from than even learned more about how to apply trade organizations in Alabama and a generation ago, so I really look leadership skills to his daily life as beyond in need of strong leaders to forward to those opportunities to well as in his future career. carry out the organization’s misteach them about something so “Leadership is not following a sion,” Moore said. important.” set path—it’s being able to do what Students began the conference The keynote speaker was Eva you feel is right without worrying with a game that simulated the Newman, a long time Alabamwhat everyone else thinks,” Lawneed for associations that promote ian who grew up as a Czech refurence said. “It’s setting an example and protect the agricultural indusgee during Hitler’s occupation of for others to follow.” n try. Czechoslovakia. w w w. A l f a F a r m e r s . o r g

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Teachers Become Students At Ag In The Classroom Summer Institute By Debra Davis

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eachers turned into students as they stepped off the bus at the farm of Brian and Don Glenn in Lawrence County as part of the annual Alabama Agriculture in the Classroom Summer Institute, June 15-17. The teachers were willing to learn, and the Glenns were eager to share their story. “People remember their granddaddy’s farm, maybe, and the things they did then were so much smaller that most people don’t understand the scope and size of what we’re dealing with,” said Brian. “The public doesn’t realize what we do and even though we’re busy, it’s important that we take time to explain it to groups like this. We need the voice of the general public to understand what we do. There are so many regulations and so many demands that are placed on us by folks in Washington who have never seen a farm that we need the public, especially teachers, to see what we’re all about.” Don agreed, adding that there are too many groups today who are painting an incorrect picture of production agriculture, especially from an environmental point of view. “We’re trying to do the right things and for the right reasons,” Don said. “We have to get our message out to the general public and what better way to do it than through the teachers who are teaching in the classroom?” The teachers who attended the institute Top Photo: Lydia Davis of Indian Valley Elementary School in Sylacauga says she has a new appreciation for what farmers do to produce food and fiber. She said she also was amazed at the enormous equipment they use like this large combine at Don and Brian Glenn’s farm in Lawrence County. Right Photo: Teachers Krista Shelley of Ashford Elementary, left, and Anntonia Owens of Fitzpatrick Elementary, right, talk with Steve Carpenter, owner of JackO-Lantern Farms in Muscle Shoals about his hoop-house tomatoes.

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Top Left Photo: Teachers listen to Brian and Don Glenn of Lawrence County explain how technology has changed modern agriculture; Top Right Photo: Brian Glenn, left, talks to teachers Leslie Needham of Fairview Middle School, center, and Sherene Langham of Hazlewood School about the importance of teaching their students about farming; and Left Photo: Dawn Berryman, left, and Dawn Terry, both of East Lawrence Elementary School, enjoyed making pigs from milk cartons during the AITC make-and-take session.

say they can’t wait to get back to the classroom and share what they’ve learned. “This entire program is superior to any workshop I’ve ever attended,” said second-grade teacher Lydia Davis of Indian Valley Elementary School in Sylacauga. “I’ve been absolutely wowed. The impact it has had on me is phenomenal. Going to the farms was wonderful. When I saw the seed, the tractor and the soil and then saw the pride in the farmer’s eye as he showed us what he did, it was so impactful. I can’t wait to share it with my students.” Sherene Langham of Hazelwood School in Town Creek said the institute was unlike any workshop she’s ever attended. “I’ve learned about the food chain and how we can use agriculture to teach all across the curriculum,” she said. “We can use agriculture to teach math, science, social studies, reading comprehension NEIGHBORS • AUGUST 2011

– everything! And they gave us the tools to do it with. It couldn’t be much easier than that.” In addition to Glenn Farms, teachers toured JackO-Lantern Farms, Servico Cotton Gin, the Music Hall of Fame and Ivy Green, the childhood home of Helen Keller. They also heard from ag literacy expert Betty Wolanyk and participated in several workshops where agriculture was the focus of hand-made crafts students could make in the classroom. The 76 teachers who graduated from the summer institute left the three-day workshop loaded down with supplies that included books, DVDs and classroom materials. The AITC program is funded largely from support of the Farming Feeds Alabama license plates. For more information about the program, visit www.AlabamaAITC.org n 11

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Free Cookbooks Available During National Catfish Month

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he Catfish Institute (TCI) is giving away free copies of its cookbook, Fresh Ideas for U.S. Catfish, to celebrate the month of August as National Catfish Month and to showcase just how versatile U.S. farm-raised catfish can be. The book contains 28 recipes, from catfish chowder to catfish artichoke dip, giving home cooks the freedom to experiment with virtually any flavor. “Our cookbook allows consumers to prepare U.S. catfish in many different arrangements, featuring the flexibility of the mild-flavored fish,” said Roger Barlow, TCI president. “With 28 recipes, there

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is great room to explore and find variations of recipes for everyone’s taste. It’s also important that consumers remember when they eat U.S. catfish, they are getting a great-tasting, enjoyable fish, as well as supporting the local farmers and the American economy.” Alabama has nearly 200 catfish farmers who grow fish in 19,200 acres of water. The state ranks second in the nation in catfish production, and in 2010 produced 137 million pounds of catfish valued at $106 million. Will Pearce of Dallas County is chairman of the Alabama Catfish Producers, a division of the Ala-

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bama Farmers Federation. He said many people limit their consumption of catfish to the popular fried filets or whole catfish. The free cookbooks provide lots of new ideas to eat a product that he and other American farmers like him take pride in producing. “We take extra care to make sure our fish are raised in clean, fresh water and we feed them a specialized grain-based diet,” Pearce said. For a free copy of Fresh Ideas for U.S. Catfish, visit UScatfish.com during the month of August. Supplies are limited! Please allow 6-8 weeks for delivery. n

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happy national catfish month. have a cookbook on us.

ROBERT wright

2011 Mississippi Catfish Farmer of the Year

TRAVIS wilson

2011 Alabama Catfish Farmer of the Year

jeff baxter

2011 Arkansas Catfish Farmer of the Year

Sponsored by The Catfish Institute

In honor of National Catfish Month, our hardworking farmers would like to give you a free U.S. Farm-Raised Catfish cookbook. You’ll find plenty of ways to celebrate – from classic poboys to sesame-crusted with sweet-and-sour sauce. Just be sure you’re cooking with U.S. Catfish. Look for the U.S. Farm-Raised seal, and you’ll know you’re bringing home the freshest, healthiest fish available. Request your free cookbook at

USCATFISH.COM. Hurry, supplies are limited.


By Jillian Clair

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Little “PEEPS” Flock To Poultry Science Camp

wenty-five hands shot in the air as a unified “MEEE!” boomed from a classroom in the poultry science building at Auburn University after Dr. Don Connor asked a room full of thirdand fourth-graders, “Who likes to eat?” The question was the start of a day of discovery for a group of kids who traveled to Auburn from all over the state to learn about chickens on a hot Thursday in June. Connor, director of Auburn’s Poultry Science Department, created the Poultry and Egg Experiences for Prospective Students (PEEPS) camp last year with the help of his faculty and staff as a recruiting tool, but as the program has evolved, Connor said he thinks the PEEPS camp serves an even bigger purpose than simply sparking an interest in studying poultry science at Auburn. “I think if you talk to kids in junior high and high school, you’ll get to the reality pretty quick that they don’t know a lot about agriculture,” Connor said. “Specifically, they don’t know a lot about poultry, and yet we’re trying to recruit those students—we just felt like there was a need to plant some seeds with younger ages and give them a little background in agriculture.” There were three sessions of PEEPS camps: first- and secondgraders, third- and fourth-graders and fifth- through seventh-graders. College students helped the camp’s coordinator, Ashley Pangle, teach the attendees about different aspects of poultry science. The children were able to hold week-old chicks, tour the Southeastern Raptor Center, watch ice cream being made with liquid nitrogen, dissect a chicken heart, take a tour of the poultry farm,

Top: Skila Thompson, a third-grader from Tallassee, said her favorite part of the day was holding the chicks. She said she is interested in learning more about poultry science after attending PEEPS camp. w w w. A l f a F a r m e r s . o r g

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visit Jordan-Hare Stadium and participate in several other hands-on activities. “I love chickens, so I like seeing them love chickens,” said Clara Fisher, an A.U. sophomore in poultry science. “I think it’s important, because it shows them where their food comes from. They really got a lot of hands-on experience, and they also got to see some fun things like the Raptor Center and the stadium, so that makes them want to come back and learn more about Auburn.” Robert Bruce, a rising fourth grader from Montgomery, didn’t have any problems with dissecting a chicken heart, an activity that some of the campers weren’t sure about at first. “I had fun today,” Bruce said. “I hope I can come back next year. I love the chickens.” Connor said he thinks the camp will make a difference in the way the children who attended view agriculture and the food they eat. “I hope they’ve gained some appreciation that you don’t just run to a fast food restaurant or a grocery store to get your food,” Connor said. “There’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes. In particular, there’s some farmer somewhere producing that food.” Connor said he believes the College of Agriculture has a responsibility to teach the public, as well as its own students, about the importance of agriculture, and PEEPS camp plays a role in fulfilling that responsibility. “I want the generation coming up to understand that’s an important part of our state and our country—people farming and producing food for us,” Connor said. “We have an obligation here at the university to not only teach college students, but also to get it out into the society as a whole to let them know how important agriculture is to everyday life.” Visit www.ag.auburn.edu/poul for information about future PEEPS camps and other activities for prospective students. n NEIGHBORS • AUGUST 2011

Top: Pruett Allen (right), a senior in poultry science at Auburn University, plays a game with the campers that shows them the strength of the egg’s inner membrane when dropped from different heights. Right: John Allen, a fourth-grader from White Plains, tries to break an egg’s shell by squeezing it inside a plastic bag. The campers learned that the egg’s shell is strong enough to withhold this type of pressure without breaking. Bottom: Roy Crowe (right), raptor education specialist at the Southeastern Raptor Center, shows the campers a black vulture living at the raptor center. The students were also able to meet a barn owl, a falcon and one of Auburn’s famous golden eagles, Spirit.

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USDA Grant To Study Benefits Of Irrigation In Southeast By Debra Davis

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rought conditions that have plagued portions of Alabama this summer are a good example of why the state may benefit from an almost $2.2 million grant to study the expansion of irrigation here. “The Southeast may be in a sweet spot,” said Dr. Richard McNider from The University of Alabama in Huntsville. “We are one of the few places in the country with both the water and the land that will be needed to substantially increase farm production.” Supported by the USDA grant, McNider leads a team that will spend the next four years studying the environmental and economic impacts that widespread expansion of irrigated agriculture might have in the Southeast. The test region includes Alabama, Mississippi, North Florida, Georgia and South Carolina. “This could become very important in the near future, as California and other Western states continue to struggle with escalating water shortages. Southern New Mexico, for instance, recently set an all-time record for consecutive days without rain,” he said. The American Farm Bureau Federation reports that by 2050, the world’s population will reach 9 billion people, and global food production must double to meet this demand.  The Southeastern United States might be uniquely equipped with the right combination of natural resources to meet the nation’s growing demand for farm products, McNider said. “If the forecasts for climate change are accurate, the dry Western states will get drier and the wet states will get wetter,” said McNider, a professor emeritus of atmospheric science at UAH. “Whether we have climate change or not, the Western region is very likely to return to the ‘normal’ climate of the previous 500 years, which is much drier than the climate of the past 100 years.” In either case, the impact on food, fiber and energy security will be significant, he said, adding that now is the time to start thinking about how to deal with those issues, instead of waiting for a crisis that is imminent.

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Baldwin County Farmers Federation President and State Board Member David Bitto, left, and Dr. Richard McNider compare irrigated cotton to dry-land cotton.

Mitt Walker of the Alabama Farmers Federation monitors water issues for the organization. He said McNider’s study could provide information to farmers and policy makers to help determine what future row crop production in the Southeast will look like. He said the Southeast has substantial advantages over other areas of the country that are dependent on irrigation. “An interesting point to consider is that irrigation in the Southeast only has to supplement the rain this region already receives during the growing season,” Walker said. “In other areas, particularly the Western states, irrigation has to supply virtually all of the water needed to produce a crop.” McNider’s research team includes climate and weather modeling experts at UAH; ecologists at The University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa; agricultural economists at the University of Georgia; crop modelers at Washington State

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University; water policy experts at California State University at Long Beach; and hydrology modelers at the U.S. Forest Service. The study’s goals include determining how much surface water is available for irrigation, and how much is needed for optimum farm production. The team will look at the environmental impact of taking water out of local ecological systems and whether large-scale irrigation can be sustained over long periods of time. The models McNider has previously used for Alabama-specific research include drawing water from rivers that are brimming during winter rains and filling on-farm reservoirs for use during growing season. In addition to climate change, several factors may be coming together that will make irrigationassisted farming in the Southeast more economically attractive, McNider said. “There was a time when just

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about every farmer in Alabama raised at least some corn,” he said. “But as corn production increased with irrigation in other parts of the country, and trucking became inexpensive, farmers here could buy corn cheaper than they could raise it.” That scenario has changed with high fuel costs raising the price of shipping across the country. He said the growing demand for alternative fuels, especially ethanol and biodiesel, could mean that droughts or flooding in the Midwest may cause drastic swings in prices for both food and gasoline in the future. “We have made ourselves vulnerable to drought in the Midwest, at the same time we deal with almost inevitable water shortages in the West,” McNider said. McNider said he believes by improving the growing conditions through widespread irrigation in the South, America will protect its food supply. “As ethanol production increases in the Midwest, they could conceivably consume all the corn that is produced there, leaving the South with a substantial void,” he said. “Imagine the impact on poultry and livestock production here if affordable corn were no longer available. It could put enough pressure on the poultry industry to force it to relocate, possibly outside our country.” McNider said a governmentbacked irrigation initiative would prove more beneficial in the long run than most crop insurance programs. “Irrigation is the best long-range crop insurance you can invest in,” he said. For more information, contact McNider at (256) 961-7756 or mcnider@nsstc.uah.edu. n

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Producers Cast Ballots In Wheat and Feed Grains Referendum

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labama wheat and feed grains producers will go to the polls Thursday, Sept. 8, to decide whether the state wheat and feed grains checkoff program should be continued for five more years at the current rate of 1 cent per bushel on corn, wheat, grain sorghum and oats sold in Alabama. Producers who grew feed grains in 2010 or planted for harvest in 2011 will be eligible to vote. State law requires a statewide producer referendum to be held every five years on whether the program should be continued. If approved, checkoff funds would be used to finance research, education and promotion activities aimed at furthering the development of the state’s wheat and feed grains industry. Shep Morris of Macon County is chairman of the Alabama Wheat &

Feed Grains Producers. He said over the years the checkoff has funded variety tests as well as research on insect and disease control, conservation practices and precision agriculture. “The research conducted with the help of these checkoff dollars is invaluable to producers,” said Morris. “Helping develop plant varieties that are drought tolerant, require less fertilizer and produce higher yields helps improve profits for farmers and helps keep food costs down for consumers. The education and promotion funded by the checkoff helps growers make wise decisions and encourages consumption and use of what we produce.” The checkoff program is voluntary. Funds are collected from producers by grain buyers and remitted to the Alabama Depart-

ment of Agriculture and Industries, which turns over the funds quarterly to the Alabama Wheat & Feed Grains Producers, a division of the Alabama Farmers Federation. A producer committee representing Alabama wheat and feed grains producer members across the state determines how the funds are distributed. On Sept. 8, Alabama wheat and feed grains producers will be able to vote between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. at their county polling sites. No proxy voting will be allowed, and no ballots will be accepted via mail. For more information, contact Buddy Adamson at (334) 613-4216 or 1-800-392-5705, ext. 4216. The referendum is authorized by Act No. 85-701 of the Alabama Legislature’s 1985 regular session. n

2011 Wheat & Feed Grains Referendum County and Poll Locations

County

Poll Location(s)

County

Poll Location(s)

County

Poll Location(s)

Autauga

Autauga County Ag Center- Extension Office – Autaugaville Alfa Office ,1858 Glynwood Dr. – Prattville Alfa Office – Bay Minette

Dallas DeKalb

Marengo Marion Marshall Mobile

Alfa Office – Robertsdale Alfa Office – Foley Alfa Office – Clayton Alfa Office, 1398 S. Eufaula Ave. – Eufaula Alfa Office – Centreville Whitley’s Store – Snead FSA Office – Oneonta Alfa Office – Union Springs Alfa Office – Greenville Alfa Office – Jacksonville Co. Ext. Office, 1702 Noble Ave., Suite 108 – Anniston Alfa Office – Lafayette Extension Office, 1526 Chesnut Bypass – Centre Alfa Office, 1st St., Clanton (downtown) Alfa Office – Butler Alfa Office – Grove Hill Alfa Office – Lineville Alfa Office – Heflin Alfa Office, 401 N. Main St. – Enterprise Alfa Office, 617 W. Davis St. – Elba Colbert Farmers Co-op – Leighton Alfa Office – Evergreen Alfa Office – Rockford Alfa Office, 306 W. Bypass – Andalusia Alfa Office – Luverne J & R Feed Services, 100 8th St. N.E. – Cullman Alfa Office, 311 James St. – Ozark

Elmore Escambia

Alfa Office, 300 Broad St. – Selma County Extension Office – Ft. Payne Alfa Office – Henagar DeKalb Farmers Co-op – Crossville Alfa Office – Wetumpka Alfa Office – Atmore Alfa Office – Brewton Etowah County Annex Building. – Gadsden Alfa Office – Fayette Alfa Office – Russellville Alfa Office, 422 W. Lawrence Harris Hwy. – Slocomb Alfa Office, 511 E Maple Ave., Suite 5 – Geneva Alfa Office – Eutaw Alfa Office – Greensboro Alfa Office, 108 Kirkland St. – Abbeville Alfa Office, 1 Park St. – Headland Alfa Office, 1038 Ross Clarke Circle NE – Dothan Alfa Office, Bypass – Scottsboro Alfa Office – Stevenson Alfa Office – Bessemer Alfa Office – Vernon Alfa Office – Rogersville Alfa Office – 158 Ana St. – Florence Alfa Office – Moulton Alfa Office – Town Creek Alfa Office, 709 2nd Ave. – Opelika Alfa Office, Hwy. 72 W. – Athens Alfa Office – Hayneville Alfa Office – Tuskegee Jeff’s Gin – Harvest Alfa Office – New Hope

Alfa Office – Linden Alfa Office – Hamilton Alfa Office – Guntersville Driskell Farm – Grand Bay Federation Office – Jon Archer Center Alfa Office, 3582 S. Ala. Ave. – Monroeville Home Office – Sales Office, 2108 E. South Blvd. – Montgomery Alfa Office, Beltline – Decatur Alfa Office – Marion County Extension Office – Carrollton Alfa Office - Aliceville Alfa Office, S. Brundidge St. - Troy Alfa Office – Wedowee Alfa Office, 3304 Hwy. 80 W., Unit 4 – Phenix City Alfa Office – Columbiana Alfa Office – Ashville Alfa Office – Livingston Alfa Office, 314 East Battle St. – Talladega Alfa Office, 230 Clark St. – Dadeville Alfa Office, Federation Office – Hwy. 82 – Northport Alfa Office, Federation Office – Airport Rd. – Jasper Alfa Office – Chatom Alfa Office – Camden Alfa Office – Double Springs

Baldwin

Barbour Bibb Blount Bullock Butler Calhoun

Chambers Cherokee Chilton Choctaw Clarke Clay Cleburne Coffee Colbert Conecuh Coosa Covington Crenshaw Cullman Dale

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Etowah Fayette Franklin Geneva

Greene Hale Henry Houston Jackson Jefferson Lamar Lauderdale Lawrence Lee Limestone Lowndes Macon Madison

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Monroe Montgomery Morgan Perry Pickens Pike Randolph Russell Shelby St. Clair Sumter Talladega Tallapoosa Tuscaloosa Walker Washington Wilcox Winston

NEIGHBORS • AUGUST 2011


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Program Helps Train Local Officers On Animal Care

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labama’s agricultural leaders are helping officers with local animal shelters, humane societies and police departments learn about the basics of farm animal care through a series of programs around the state. The Alabama Coalition for Farm Animal Care and Well-Being hosted three sessions of “Animal Agriculture 101” in June. The coalition includes the Alabama Farmers Federation and other agricultural organizations in the state, plus representatives of the Alabama Cooperative Extension System and the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries. The first session was June 23 at the Pike County Cattleman’s Park Building in Troy. About 30 people attended and heard from six speakers on topics Alabama Farmers Federation Broadcast Director Kevin including basic facts about different kinds of farm animals, animal behavior and media relations. Dis- Worthington, right, was among those who spoke at the Animal Agriculture 101 program in Troy, June 23. Worthington discussed cussions also were held to help attendees evaluate working with the media. He is pictured with Nicole McLaughlin animal health and the role of the Alabama Departof the Montgomery Humane Society, left, and Sgt. Tracy Ward of ment of Agriculture. the Houston County Sheriff’s Department. Nicole McLaughlin of the Montgomery Humane Society said the best aspect of the workshop was going to be very helpful.” learning about available resources for working with The other sessions were held June 28 at the Northfarm animals. east Alabama Law Enforcement Academy in Fort “We have people living in urban areas who bring McClellan and June 30 at the Jon Archer Agricultural in animals like chickens or lambs who got more than Center in Mobile. they bargained for,” McLaughlin said. “It’s nice to Nate Jaeger, director of the Federation’s Beef, know where to get the supplies and advice to take care Equine and Hay and Forage Divisions, coordinated of these animals until we find them a suitable home.” the Federation’s efforts for Animal Ag 101. He said he McLaughlin said she feels more qualified to serve expects the program to grow in popularity. farm animal owners after the workshop. “Animal Ag 101 is a chance for law enforcement to “Being new to the animal field, it was great to be get first-hand knowledge from subject experts about able to understand the different environments of animals on a farm compared to other animals,” McLaugh- farm animal care and to meet farmers and ranchers in their area to call on when needed,” said Jaeger. “The lin said. summer series is already a hit, and we anticipate a fall Sgt. Tracy Ward of the Houston County Sheriff’s series to be held in Tuscaloosa, Florence and HuntsDepartment said the information he learned at the ville will be just as popular.” workshop would make some parts of his job easier. Follow the Alabama Coalition for Farm Animal “I learned a lot of information I wasn’t aware of, Care and Well-Being on Facebook for information and like handling livestock,” Ward said. “We cover a lot of additional meeting announcements or contact Jaeger at rural areas, so we’re constantly dealing with livestock NJaeger@AlfaFarmers.org or call (334) 613-4221. n getting out of fences, so I think this information is w w w. A l f a F a r m e r s . o r g

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NEIGHBORS • AUGUST 2011


Employees Embrace Annual Farmers Market Day By Melissa Martin

H

undreds of Alfa Insurance and Alabama Farmers Federation employees loaded up on fresh fruits and vegetables, baked goods, organic grains, shrimp and other locally-grown foods June 30 during the eighth annual Alfa Farmers Market Day. Organized by Mac Higginbotham, Greenhouse, Nursery & Sod and Horticulture director for the Alabama Farmers Federation, the farmers market is one of the most anticipated events held at the Alfa home office in Montgomery each year. Farmers and vendors enjoy expanding their customer base, and employees enjoy reaping the benefits of the farmers’ hard work. “This event brings a lot of smiling faces because the employees here at Alfa know they are getting products that are harvested at the peak of their nutritional content and flavor,” said Higginbotham. “We celebrate the Buy Fresh, Buy Local campaign each year, and the Alfa Farmers Market Day really serves as a reminder to our employees about the benefits consumers have when they shop directly with these farmers.” A fan of the farmers market, employee Mallory Acord noted that while it’s nice not having to worry about making it to the local market before closing time, the annual Alfa market day serves a larger purpose. “It’s wonderful to see a company promoting local businesses and supporting local farmers,” said Acord, physical damage administrative assistant for Alfa’s Salvage Claims Department. “Not only does it create a solid relationship between the two, but it also promotes healthy living.” Lines formed early for 5-pound bags of farm-raised white shrimp, and countless customers smiled as

they hauled away coolers brimming with the saltwater sensation. “We love what we do, and we look forward to coming here,” said Dickie Odom, owner of Odom Farms in Eutaw, who is president of the Greene County Farmers Federation and a district director of the Alabama Farmers Federation. “It’s good seeing people from all across Montgomery – not just Alfa – come out here, and they’re genuinely excited about our shrimp and the variety of fresh fruits and vegetables other farmers bring. It’s a great thing.” Other participating farmers included Carroll’s Farm Fresh Produce of Ozark, Oakview Farms Granary of Wetumpka, GiGi’s Fabulous Foods of Montgomery and Wise Farms of Clanton. n

Alfa employees enjoyed a bounty of fresh fruits, vegetables and other Alabama-grown products at the annual Alfa Farmers Market Day. NEIGHBORS • AUGUST 2011

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Farmers Ask For Less Government Regulation In 2012 Farm Bill By Debra Davis

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labama farmers told U.S. Rep. Martha Roby, R-Ala., what they’d like in the 2012 farm bill, but they were equally vocal about what they don’t want when they met with her in Troy, June 30. The farmers were taking part in a listening session that Roby, who represents the 2nd Congressional District and is a member of the House Agriculture Committee, held to gather input on the next farm bill. Alabama Commissioner of Agriculture and Industries John McMillan served as moderator for the meeting. “I appreciate what you do, and I understand the importance of what you do,” Roby told the farmers. “As we develop the next farm bill, I want to make sure I am armed with information from you about what programs work and what needs to be improved.” Alabama Farmers Federation Southeast Area Vice President Ricky Wiggins was among those who spoke. He said farming is a risky business, adding that farmers need government policy that encourages efficiency, ensures supply, focuses on producer risk, provides an effective safety net and is a bargain to taxpayers. w w w. A l f a F a r m e r s . o r g

“What we do not need from our government is additional uncertainty,” Wiggins said. Barbour County Farmers Federation Board Member Kenny Childree told Roby the government doesn’t need to encourage the reduction of any more cropland. “If we take farmland out of production, it doesn’t need to be planted in trees,” said Childree, himself a timber owner. “We have enough trees. If we take land out of crop production, it should be planted in grass so we can convert it back to cropland if it’s needed.” Childree and several others spoke against increased governmental regulations on farmers and the apparent influence that radical environmental groups have on conservation policy. “I need as much protection from invasive species as the government provides for endangered species,” Childree said. Roby said she plans to hold additional meetings to learn more about what farmers need in the farm bill. n Geneva County poultry farmer Donald Wilks, right, talks with U.S. Rep. Martha Roby following the listening session in Troy, June 30.

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NEIGHBORS • AUGUST 2011


Alabama Farmers Federation Members Now Save With Sam’s Club

M

embers of the Alabama Farmers Federation can now enjoy a year of savings and a Sam’s Club gift card when joining or renewing membership with the nation’s eighth largest retailer. In a partnership started July 1, Federation members receive a $25 Sam’s Club gift card when joining or renewing as a Plus Member*. If joining or renewing as an Advantage or Business Member, Federation members receive a $10 gift card*. To take advantage of the offer, visit the member area of www. AlfaFarmers.org, print the Sam’s

Club certificate and present the certificate and your valid Federation membership card at the Member Services Desk of any Sam’s Club location. “We’re very excited to offer our members this opportunity to save with a premier partner like Sam’s Club,” said Marc Pearson, Alfa’s membership director. “Our members have said they are interested in benefits to help save money in their daily lives, and we’re listening. Sam’s Club offers superior products where members save an average of 30 percent over traditional retailers. Getting a gift card

back for being a Federation member is a great added perk of membership with our organization.” There are 13 Sam’s Club locations conveniently located across Alabama, and Federation members can take their certificate to any location nationwide. To find the nearest location visit www.SamsClub.com or call 1-800-881-9180. For a complete list of Alabama Farmers Federation benefits and to access your Sam’s Club certificate, go to www.AlfaFarmers.org/benefits. n

Scan this QR Code with a QR reader app on your smartphone and be taken directly to this website.

*A $100 Advantage Plus Membership and $40 Advantage Membership include one primary card and one spouse (or other household member over the age of 18) card. A $100 Business Plus Membership and $35 Business Membership include one primary card, one company card and one spouse (or other household member over the age of 18) card. Primary Memberships are valid for one year from the date of issue. The certificate may be redeemed for a new or renewed Membership. The Gift Card with this offer cannot be used toward Membership fees. Certificates and special promotions are not valid on SamsClub.com or by mail. Primary Membership fee ($100 for Plus, $40 for Advantage, $35 for Business – plus tax in some places) will apply at the time of renewal. This offer cannot be combined with any other offer. To view our privacy policy, visit SamsClub.com/privacy. Only original certificates accepted. One-time use only. Offer not valid in Puerto Rico.

The Charlie Daniels Band

Performing Dec. 4 at the Alabama Farmers Federation 90th Annual Meeting Advanced ticket sales will be available ONLY to Alabama Farmers Federation annual meeting attendees from Sept. 1-15 by calling the Saenger Theatre Box Office (251) 208-5600, Monday-Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Ticket Prices

$30, $35 and $45 plus service charge

After Sept. 16, ticket sales will open to the public through TicketMaster at www.ticketmaster.com or may be purchased by calling 800-745-3000 from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily. NEIGHBORS • AUGUST 2011

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County Federation Annual Meetings DATE – TIME

COUNTY

LOCATION

DATE – TIME

COUNTY

LOCATION

Aug. 1 – 7:00 p.m.

Dale

Dale County Ag Plex, 202 Hwy. 123 S., Ozark

Aug. 17 –7:00 p.m.

Autauga

Ag Center, Autaugaville

Aug. 1 – 4:00 p.m.

Madison

Holiday Inn Express-Downtown, Huntsville

Aug. 18 – 7:00 p.m.

Covington

Oakwood Lodge, 13725 Brooklyn Rd., Andalusia

Aug. 2 – 6:30 p.m.

Lawrence

Lawrence County Ag Center, Moulton

Aug. 18 – 6:30 p.m.

Blount

Frank J. Green Building, Oneonta (BBQ served at 6 p.m.)

Aug. 2 – 7:00 p.m.

Henry

Wiregrass Research & Experiment Center, 167 E State Hwy. 134, Headland

Aug. 18 – 6:30 p.m.

Bullock

Greenway Sportsmen’s Club, 18502 U.S. Hwy. 82 West, Union Springs

Aug. 2 – 6:30 p.m.

Jackson

County Federation Office, 23625 John T. Reid Parkway, Scottsboro

Aug. 18 – 6:30 p.m.

Talladega

Shocco Springs Baptist Conference Center/ Stephens Center, Talladega

Aug. 8 – 7:00 p.m.

Washington

Federation Building, 54 Court St., Chatom

Aug. 18 – 7:00 p.m.

Tuscaloosa

LeRoy McAbee Center, 3801 Loop Rd., Tuscaloosa

Aug. 8 – 7:00 p.m.

St. Clair

Alfa Service Center, 32775 U.S. Hwy. 231, Ashville

Aug. 19 – 6:00 p.m.

Limestone

Alabama Veterans Museum, 100 Pryor St., Athens

Aug. 9 – 6:30 p.m.

Franklin

Best Western Hotel, Russellville

Aug. 20 – 5:00 p.m.

Randolph

Wedowee Kiwanis Park Antique Tractor Pavilion, Wedowee

Aug. 9 – 6:30 p.m.

Cleburne

Heflin Community Arts Center, 279 Martin Luther King Dr., Heflin

Aug. 22 – 7:00 p.m.

Choctaw

Alfa Office, Butler

Aug. 9 – 7:00 p.m.

Baldwin

Federation Building, 21332 Hwy. 59, Robertsdale

Aug. 23 – 6:30 p.m.

Tallapoosa

First Methodist Church, Dadeville

Aug. 9 – 7:00 p.m.

Lamar

Old High School, Vernon

Aug. 23 – 6:30 p.m.

Houston

Alfa Office, 1038 Ross Clark Circle, Dothan

Aug. 11 – 7:00 p.m.

Geneva

Geneva County Farm Center, 2765 Hwy. 52, Geneva

Aug. 23 – 6:00 p.m.

Escambia

Ag Center, 175 Ag Science Dr., Brewton

Aug. 11 – 6:30 p.m.

Calhoun

County Federation Office, 1535 Pelham Rd. S., Jacksonville

Aug. 23 – 7:00 p.m.

Marshall

County Federation Office, 1333 Blount Ave., Guntersville

Aug. 11 – 6:30 p.m.

Coosa

Old School Building, Nixburg Road & County Road 18, Rockford

Aug. 23 – 5:30 p.m.

Bibb

Alfa Office, Centreville

Aug. 11 – 7:30 p.m.

Wilcox

Lower Coastal Plains Substation, Camden

Aug. 26 –10:00 a.m.

Jefferson

Birmingham Botanical Gardens, 2612 Lane Park Rd., Birmingham

Aug. 11 – 7:00 p.m.

Barbour

The Point Restaurant, corner of Hwy. 130 & Eufaula Avenue, Clayton

Aug. 29 – 6:30 p.m.

Colbert

Northwest Shoals Jr. College, Muscle Shoals

Aug. 11 – 7:00 p.m.

Cullman

Cullman County Federation Office, Main Avenue, Cullman

Aug. 29 – 7:00 p.m.

Chilton

Alfa Office, 301 1st St. N., Clanton

Aug. 12 – 6:30 p.m.

Cherokee

Dean Buttram Senior Center, 229 Dean Buttram Ave., Centre

Aug. 30 – 6:00 p.m.

Conecuh

David Burt Building, 102 Liberty St., Evergreen

Aug. 12 – 7:00 p.m.

Morgan

Hartselle Civic Center, Hartselle

Aug. 30 – 6:30 p.m.

Walker

Walker County Federation Office, 903 Airport Rd. S., Jasper

Aug. 12 – 6:30 p.m.

Marion

Hamilton Recreation Center, Hamilton

Aug. 30 – 6:30 p.m.

Clarke

Alfa Insurance/Farmers Federation Office, 148 S. Jackson St., Grove Hill

Aug. 13 – 6:00 p.m.

Chambers

Alfa Office, Lafayette

Sept. 1 – 1:00 p.m.

Hale

Alfa Office, Greensboro

Aug. 15 – 6:30 p.m.

Etowah

County Federation Office, 125 Broad St., Gadsden

Sept. 6 – 6:00 p.m.

Macon

Beck’s Turf Farm, 2858 County Road 58, Tuskegee

Aug. 15 – 6:00 p.m.

Butler

Pioneer Electric Conference Room, Greenville

Sept. 6 – 11:00 a.m.

Perry

Alfa Office, Marion

Aug. 15 – 6:30 p.m.

Pickens

Extension Service Office, 155 Reform St., Carrollton

Sept. 8 – 6:30 p.m.

Crenshaw

E.L. Turner Park, Hwy. 331, Luverne

Aug. 16 – 6:30 p.m.

DeKalb

Alfa Insurance Office, 346 McCurdy Ave. S, Rainsville

Sept. 12 – 6:30 p.m.

Lowndes

Southern Sportsmen’s Lodge, Benton

Aug. 16 – 6:30 p.m.

Monroe

Ag Center, 334 Agriculture Dr., Monroeville

Sept. 13- 6:30 p.m.

Dallas

Alfa Service Center, Selma

Aug. 16 – 6:30 p.m.

Lauderdale

Underwood-Petersville Center, Florence

Sept. 15 – 6:30 p.m.

Winston

Farmers & Traders Bank, Double Springs

Aug. 16 – 6:30 p.m.

Fayette

Fayette Civic Center, Fayette

Sept. 20 – 6:30 p.m.

Marengo

Alfa Service Center, Linden

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NEIGHBORS • AUGUST 2011


By Lois Chaplin

Cleome, a flowering annual.

T

his time of year, gardens may include a host of dead blooms, half-filled seed heads, rose hips and brown leaves and stems. A little trimming, watering and feeding of many flowers and reblooming roses this month will pay big dividends in a few weeks with many more blooms and nice new foliage. Even some perennials and summer flowering trees and shrubs respond to “deadheading” if the time is taken to do it. Deadheading is a gardener’s term for cutting off old, dying blooms and seed heads. The trick is doing it early enough so plants have time to recover and bloom while the weather is still warm. In the case of small trees such as crape myrtle, vitex and butterfly

bush, skip a visit to the gym for an upper body workout in lieu of using the pole pruner to reach the faded blooms and seed heads at the tips of each little branch. Gardeners may be surprised that after a little fertilizer and some water, these woody plants often put on a second flush of blooms in a few weeks. The same is true for the newer small, shrub-like and basket-type crape myrtles. Annual and perennial flowers are easily cut back with hand pruners. Just trim the old, faded blooms and seed heads of big flowered annuals such as cleome, zinnia, petunia, cosmos, zinnia, gaillardia, marigolds, scarlet sage (annual red salvia), tithonia and branching sunflowers. As annuals,

GET GROWING AT THE CO-OP. w w w. A l f a F a r m e r s . o r g

M G K P

Alabama

ardener

these plants are programmed to set Country itchen seed before the end of their growing season. After they do, the plants decline because their purpose in life is accomplished. But they can be fooled into continuing to bloom by pinching off the faded blooms. Market lace That way, the plants will have to keep blooming to reach their life’s goal, and gardeners are the recipient of a lot more color for a longer period of time, usually until frost kills the summer annuals. Some perennials also respond to deadheading, especially the long-blooming salvias and veronicas, as well as phlox and catmint (Nepeta species). With perennials, it is important to clip them back continuously as the blooms fade. They don’t come back as vigorously as annuals, but will keep throwing out new blooms on new growth that sprouts from just below where they were cut. Some plants grown for foliage also like a little trim at this time of year. Coleus often sets flowers, so keep them clipped. In sub-tropical Baton Rouge, La., a nursery owner once shared with me how they advise customers to trim back ratty looking hostas to the ground in mid summer. With water and fertilizer, they put on a second flush of new growth. I’ve never witnessed this first hand, but readers in south Alabama whose hostas look battered might want to try it. Annual herbs may last longer by deadheading, too. n

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

WWW.ALAFARM.COM 26

NEIGHBORS • AUGUST 2011


Fuller Awarded Alfa’s Teacher of the Month for August

By Melissa Martin

S

ummer vacation may be one of the most coveted perks of being a teacher, but being responsible for improving a student’s life is a reward, which far surpasses the value of any vacation, gift certificate or plaque. Fuller Lee Ann Fuller, a math and economics teacher at John Carroll Catholic High School in Birmingham, is one such teacher who recognizes that clarifying a textbook lesson may be important to a student’s career, but making a student’s life better is a gift that continues long after the last bell rings. “On a very rare occasion, an adult – a teacher – will show the way by reminding a troubled child that she is a worthwhile person. That very special, rare adult will go out of her way to encourage and support that child . . . and will not give up when literally everyone else in the school has,” said Cathy Sewell, parent of a former student. “In addition to being an excellent math instructor, Mrs. Lee Ann Fuller is one of those very rare, very special teachers, and I am so thankful she came into my daughter’s life.” While the accolades are humbling, Fuller believes the end results are just an accomplishment of a goal. For a teacher with a gift as natural as Fuller’s, however, it’s really a by product of another day in the classroom and of a job well done. “I want the student who has never felt a positive moment related to math to walk out of my class with a smile and a better understanding of the material that has challenged him or her for so long,” she said. It’s Fuller’s commitment to her

NEIGHBORS • AUGUST 2011

students, school and community that earned her the designation as the first of two private school teachers honored this year in the Alfa Teacher of the Month program. As the August honoree, she will receive $1,000 from Alfa Insurance. Her school will receive a matching award from the Alabama Farmers Federation. Fuller earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from Emory & Henry College in 2001, and a Master of Arts in education from the University of Alabama at Birmingham in 2004. A team leader for the Profes-

27

sional Learning Community, Fuller also serves as John Carroll Catholic High’s volleyball coach. During 2011, Alfa Insurance and the Alabama Farmers Federation are honoring one outstanding teacher from each of Alabama’s eight state board districts, two principals and two private school teachers. n

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G K P

Country

itchen By Kellie Henderson

Old-Fashioned

Market

Pecan Pie 4 tablespoon s melted mar garine ½ cup firmly packed brow n sugar 3 eggs ½ teaspoon vanilla 2/3 cup ligh t corn syrup 1/8 teaspoon salt 1 cup choppe d pecans

lace

Mix all ing redients in pour into a order and deep-dish p ie shell. Ba at 350 degre ke es for 45 m inutes or until firm.

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aren Newman of Blount County says her kitchen is carrying on the same traditions she cherished as a child. “I learned to cook standing on a chair in my mother’s kitchen, and both my children learned the same way. Now my grandson, Cameron, wants to do the same thing when I’m cooking,” Karen said. Born in Guntersville, Karen said her parents moved to Blount County when she was still a toddler. She and her husband, Charles, met at a young age at the Blountsville Fall Festival. They’ve been married 47 years and raise Charolais cattle and quarter horses. Charles cuts and bales hay for the farm. “He does a little custom baling for some people, too, and he recently retired as the foreman of a welding and construction shop,” Karen explains, adding that his work on the farm lately has been a full-time job. “Since the storms came through in April, he’s been fixing a lot of fences around the place where trees and limbs fell on them. But we

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didn’t have any other damage, so we were very lucky in that regard,” she said. Karen works in an appliance store in Blountsville. She said driving into work on the days following the catastrophic storms was shocking. “I can’t ever remember in my life such devastation from storms. One street about a quarter-mile from the store looked like the tornado had driven right down it. There were eight or nine houses that were just gone,” she said. In addition to their farming and work responsibilities, the Newmans are active in the Blount County Farmers Federation, both serving on the Equine Committee in their county. And because they have a passion for farming, Karen says she and Charles have always made vegetable gardening a priority for their family, too. “We thought it was important for our children to understand that even the food that comes from a grocery store is only there because someone planted and worked to bring that food to our table,” she said. And while Karen says her mother’s kitchen was home to her first cooking inspirations, she says her mother-in-law has also shared wonderful recipes with her over the years, including her recipe for pecan pie. “She’s still a wonderful cook and keeps an immaculate house at 90 years old,” Karen said of her mother-in-law. “She’s farmed all her life, and cooked the most wonderful old-fashioned farm-fresh meals all that time.” Like her mother-in-law’s pecan pie, Karen shares several other recipes that reflect her family’s favorites. “The squash fritters are my grandson Justin’s favorite thing, and my daughters love frogmore stew,” she said. “And we all love the cabbage and sausage supper. It cooks so quickly that we sometimes have it twice a week when cabbages are in season.” NEIGHBORS • AUGUST 2011

7-Layer Salad

Lazy Boy Peach Pie

1 large head lettuce torn into small pieces 1 large head cauliflower, sliced into thin pieces 1 purple onion, sliced into thin pieces 1 (15-ounce) can English peas, drained 1 (2-cup) package shredded sharp cheddar cheese 1 (4-ounce) jar bacon bits 1 quart mayonnaise 1 envelope Seven Seas Italian Dressing Mix

1 quart jar (or 28-ounce can) peaches 1 cup self-rising flour 1/2 cup (1 stick) melted butter or margarine 1 large egg 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

In a large bowl, layer the first six ingredients in the order given. Cover completely with mayonnaise spreading completely to edges to seal. Sprinkle on dressing mix and refrigerate overnight. Toss just before serving. Cowboy Beans 3 (15-ounce) cans pork and beans 1 pound ground beef, browned and drained 1 bell pepper, chopped 1 onion, chopped 1/4 cup brown sugar 1 (15-ounce) bottle ketchup 1/2 pound bacon, cut into small pieces

Add first six ingredients to a 9- X 13-inch baking dish and gently combine. Top with bacon, and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour. Cabbage & Sausage Supper 1 large head cabbage, cut into strips 2 cups water 2 tablespoons olive oil 1 pound Polish sausage, cut into ½-inch pieces Salt and pepper to taste

Add all ingredients to a large saucepot. Cook over medium heat for 15 to 20 minutes or until tender. Serve with cornbread. Squash Dressing 4 cups crumbled cornbread 2 cups stewed squash, drained 3 large eggs 1 (10-ounce) can cream of chicken soup 1 chopped onion 1 teaspoon poultry seasoning 1/2 teaspoon sage Salt and black pepper to taste

In a large bowl, mix all ingredients and pour into a 9- X 13-inch casserole dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until dressing reaches desired firmness. 29

Pour peaches and juice into a 9- X 13-inch baking dish. Mix all remaining ingredients and pour over peaches. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Squash Fritters 2 cups stewed squash, drained 1 medium onion, chopped 1 large egg, beaten 1/2 cup self-rising flour 1/2 cup self-rising corn meal Salt and pepper to taste Oil for frying

In a mixing bowl, mash squash with a fork. Add onion and egg and mix well. In a separate bowl combine flour and corn meal and add to squash mixture. Add salt and pepper. Drop by tablespoon into hot oil. Pan fry fritters, turning over in oil, until brown on both sides. Frogmore Stew 8 to 10 ears sweet corn, cut into 3- to 4-inch pieces 4 pounds small potatoes 6 medium onions, quartered 3 pounds shrimp 2 to 3 pounds Polish sausage, cut into chunks 1 package crab and shrimp boil

Place corn and potatoes into a large stock pot. Cover with water and add crab and shrimp boil. Boil just until potatoes begin to get tender. Add onions, shrimp and sausage. Boil 5 more minutes, then drain off water and transfer to platters to serve. n

____________________________________ Editor’s Note: Recipes published in the “Country Kitchen” are not kitchentested prior to publication. Look for more “Country Kitchen” recipes online at www.AlfaFarmers.org. w w w. A l f a F a r m e r s . o r g


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August, 2011, Neighbors Magazine