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July 16, 2012   Email to Friend  Download PDF of this Issue

Holtville High School students take “Buy Fresh, Buy Local” idea to new level

A few students at Elmore County’s Holtville High School supplemented their summer vacations this year with a part-time job tending to the inaugural “Farm Fresh to You” community-supported agriculture garden. Led by agriscience teacher Scott Poague, the “Farm Fresh” program provides customers with weekly deliveries of fresh summer produce for a seasonal fee. Pictured above are, from back left, Holtville juniors Chandler Morgan, Tyler Blankenship and Devin Goodwin.
Most teenagers would rather sleep in and relax in the air conditioning during the sweltering summer months, but a handful of students in Elmore County are proving they’re not afraid of hard work.

Led by agriscience teacher Scott Poague, Holtville High School FFA students supplemented traditional textbook studies this year with the inaugural “Farm Fresh to You” program. A community-supported agricultural (CSA) garden located on Holtville’s campus, “Farm Fresh” provides eight customers with weekly deliveries of fresh summer produce for a seasonal fee of $100. Though Poague laid the groundwork for the garden, he says it’s the students who deserve credit for its success.

“I help with the harvest, make sure things run smoothly and deal with the customers, but the students are really the backbone of this project,” said Poague, who was inspired to start the CSA garden after visiting Randle Farms last year. At their Lee County farm, the Randles offer shares of meats and vegetables throughout the year for seasonal fees. Recognizing a good idea when he sees one, Poague tweaked the idea to fit his school’s landscape.

“After seeing the program in action at the Randles, I knew this would be a great fundraiser-type opportunity for our students,” he explained. “We received a grant through the Mid-State Resource Conservation and Development Council to purchase equipment last fall, prepped the land and planted this spring. It has done very well, and we’re proud to be providing a service – vegetables, in this case – to the community.”

While the program has been a financial success for Holtville’s FFA chapter, the program’s underlying benefits exceed fiscal values. Members of the Slapout, Holtville and Wetumpka communities have applauded the school’s program, emphasizing how nice it is that students are involved in farming. Community members also enjoy knowing several area residents are eating locally grown food.

“And for horticulture students, it’s been a great way to get them out of the classroom so they can see first-hand what we’ve talked about in class,” added Poague. “It’s good for them to get their hands in the dirt.”

In addition to experience, the garden provides a few students with a summer job. They come to the garden weekday mornings, pick what’s ready and earn a little money in the process.

“I really like having something I can do outside,” said Chandler Morgan, a junior at Holtville. “It’s not always easy, but I enjoy it. I can get here early, pick beans or pull weeds, and still have plenty of time left in the day to do what I want.”

Tyler Blankenship, also a junior, echoed Morgan’s remarks, adding that the summer heat isn’t much of a deterrent for him.

“Working this garden is much better than being in the classroom,” said Blankenship, as he filled his five-gallon bucket with beans. “I grew up around hay and cattle, but I like being in the garden more.”

Based on the program’s popularity, Poague said he expects to open the garden to more customers in the future. Plans to expand the garden’s acreage and fare are also in the works.

“Some farmers may plant two or three things – sweet corn, tomatoes, peaches – but to do this, we had to plant different things over a period of time to keep things coming up all summer,” Poague said. “We limited the number of customers this year because we didn’t want to cut things too close, but I see us increasing that number next year.”

During its first season, Holtville’s “Farm Fresh” garden offered customers sweet corn, field corn, peas, peppers, tomatoes, onions, squash, okra, beans and cucumbers.

Questions? Email Poague at samuel.poague@elmore.k12.al.us for more information.


Meat goat producer training slated for Aug. 6-8 in Tuskegee

In response to increased interest in meat goat production, Tuskegee University is offering a Master Goat Producer Training Certification program Aug. 6-8 at the Tuskegee University Caprine Research Education Unit. The program is scheduled from 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. daily.

Program participants will attend classes on herd health and nutrition, marketing, pasture management, reproductive management and bio-security.

Producers will also receive training in hoof trimming, assessing body condition scores, and judging livestock. Three levels of program certification are available.

Registration is $100 and includes breakfast and lunch each day.

Contact Marilyn Hooks at (334) 727-8453 for registration and information.


Bentley Signs Agritourism Liability Measure

Gov. Robert Bentley signed into law an agritourism liability measure sponsored by Rep. Donnie Chesteen, R-Geneva, and Sen. Gerald Allen, R-Tuscaloosa, at a June 18 ceremony. Chesteen said the bill will allow farmers and landowners to host agritourism events on their properties without the fear of frivolous lawsuits. Alabama Farmers Federation Board Member John Walker said the bill will help boost the economy in rural areas. Pictured with Bentley are, from left, Federation Governmental and Agricultural Programs intern Willis McKee; Federation Horticulture Division Director Mac Higginbotham; Federation Executive Director Paul Pinyan; Walker; Chesteen; Rep. Mike Jones, R-Andalusia; Allen; Patrick Moody with the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries; Federation Director of Agricultural Legislation David Cole, and Federation Assistant Director of Governmental and Agricultural Programs Brian Hardin.





House Agriculture Committee reports 2012 farm bill

The 2012 farm bill continues to slowly emerge, but farmers across the country are eager for details to materialize soon.

Members of the House Agriculture Committee met and reported its version of the farm bill July 11. Known as the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management (FARRM) Act, the bill was approved by the Committee by a vote of 35-11. The FARRM Act now moves to the House.

Whether a bill will be finalized before the 2008 farm bill expires Sept. 30 remains to be seen, but congressmen are optimistic.

U.S. House Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Collin C. Peterson, D-Minn., emphasized the importance of the House passing the legislation before the late summer recess.

“There will be challenges ahead,” said Peterson, who drafted the FARRM Act alongside Rep. Frank Lucas, R-Okla. “But if the House leadership gets this right and brings this bill to the floor, we will ultimately finish the bill in September.”

Lucas echoed Peterson’s remarks, adding that the committee’s report could foreshadow the House reaction.

“This marks an important step forward in the development of the next farm bill,” said Lucas.

After reviewing the FARRM Act, Alabama Farmers Federation National Legislative Programs Director Mitt Walker said key components of the House bill differ from the version passed in the Senate.

“As expected, a vastly different bill was approved by the House Agriculture Committee July 11,” said Walker. “The main differences include the choice between either price loss coverage or revenue loss coverage in the commodity title, as well as deeper cuts to the nutrition title.”

The Senate’s version of the 2012 farm bill, which passed June 21, is estimated to cut the national deficit by almost $24 billion over the next 10 years. It also seeks to end direct payments to farmers and looks to place increased emphasis on individual crop insurance.

Meanwhile, the House bill is estimated to cut the deficit by $35 billion and provides regulatory relief to mitigate burdens farmers, ranchers and rural communities face.

Both the Senate and House agree on eliminating direct payments.

In a review of the Senate’s version of the farm bill, the American Farm Bureau Federation and the Alabama Farmers Federation were successful in efforts to oppose an amendment that would have prohibited any mandatory or compulsory checkoff programs. The organizations were also successful in opposing amendments that would have eliminated $4 billion in cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamps), and an amendment that would have imposed a $250,000-Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) means test for all programs in the farm bill, including conservation.

Walker pointed out there were also a number of amendments opposed by the Federation that were agreed to by the Senate.

“Two amendments we opposed related to crop insurance gained approval, despite our position” said Walker. “One requires conservation compliance as a requisite for crop insurance eligibility, and the other requires producers with an AGI over certain levels to pay a higher premium for crop insurance.”

The Federation’s Farm Bill Committee continues to monitor the status of the farm bill.



Federation members find savings at Office Depot

Alabama Farmers Federation members can save up to 80 percent off preferred office products thanks to a new agreement with Office Depot®.

“We are pleased to announce the new discount with Office Depot,” said Membership Director Marc Pearson. “We strive to offer our members a variety of savings programs, and this partnership is just another way the Alabama Farmers Federation is working to save members money.”

In addition to enjoying discounted retail prices on more than 93,000 items, members receive free next-day delivery on orders totalling $50 or more. A “Best Value” list depicting retail savings is also available.

To redeem the discount, visit any Office Depot store and present the cashier with the in-store discount card. Members may access discount program materials and shop online at www.alfafarmers.org/officedepot.







OBITUARIES

Stanley Morris, president of the St. Clair County Farmers Federation, died June 30. He was 75.

A member of the Alabama Cattlemen’s Association, Morris was an advocate for agriculture and the rural community. He also served as deacon at Friendship Baptist Church.

Survivors include his wife, Lucille; daughters Elaine Engle (Frank), Marian Elkins (Lou); son Frank Morris (Tracie); nine grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.

Memorial contributions may be made to Friendship Baptist Church, 19436 U.S. Hwy. 411, Springville, AL 35146.


Bettye Ann Culp Payton, a Coosa County Farmers Federation board member, died July 4. She was 79.

In addition to her service on the Federation board, Payton served as secretary for the Coosa County Farmers Federation for more than 20 years and was active in the Women’s Leadership Committee, where she volunteered as a food price survey purveyor.

Survivors include her sons, Tommy Payton (Rhonda) and Stephen Payton (Sharon); brothers Larry Culp (Jean), Jimmy Culp (Doris) and Jerry Culp (Sandra); and three grandchildren.

Memorial contributions may be made to Sylacauga Church of Christ, Youth Group, P.O. Box 126, Sylacauga, AL 35150.


George Findley, a Calhoun County Farmers Federation board member, died July 5. He was 78.

A poultry and cattle farmer, Findley served 16 years as a county director for the Calhoun County Farmers Federation. He was a graduate of Oxford High School. 

Survivors include his wife, Linda; son Steve Findley (Kim); stepdaughters Karen Niblett (Josh), Sharon Johnson (J.J.), Kristi Dodd (Jimmy); sister Anne Harris (Roger); 11 grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

Memorial contributions may be made to Post Oak Springs Baptist Church, 2427 Post Oak Rd., Jacksonville, AL 36265.


Drought Subcommittee Meeting

Members of the Alabama Water Resources Commission’s (AWRC) drought subcommittee met July 10 to discuss the impacts of drought on Alabama and draft response plans. From left are Montgomery Water Works and Sanitary Sewer Board Member Buddy Morgan; Drought Subcommittee Chairman Ashley Cousins, who also serves as vice chair of the AWRC; and Madison County Farmers Federation Board Member Dennis Bragg.












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