HOUSTON COUNTY FAMILY HONORED FOR FARM OF DISTINCTION
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- A diversified row crop, sod and produce operation in Houston County, Forrester Farms, was named Alabama's 2006 Farm of Distinction by the Alabama Farm-City Committee April 19 in Birmingham.
|Glenn and Sylvia Forrester, front, accept awards for the 2006 Alabama Farm of Distinction during the Alabama Farm-City Awards program April 19 in Birmingham. Joining them for the presentation were family and sponsors, from back left, Jason Forrester, Jared Forrester, Dr. Missy Forrester, Janna Forrester Sayer, John Sayer, Jonas Forrester, Alabama Farmers Cooperative Director of Public Relations Jim Allen and Alabama Farmers Federation President Jerry A. Newby.|
As this year's winner, Glenn and Sylvia Forrester received prizes valued at more than $10,000 and will represent Alabama in the Southeastern Farmer of the Year competition with the winner being named during the Sunbelt Ag Expo Oct. 17-19 in Moultrie, Ga.
A fifth-generation farmer, Glenn recalled that his great-grandfather came from Beaufort County, South Carolina by wagon to set up a small homestead in Houston County. Later, Glenn's father was a tenant farmer from 1927 to 1941, when a 100 percent loan from the Farmers Home Administration afforded him the opportunity to purchase his own farm.
Today, Forrester Farms has grown to include 1,000 acres of peanuts, 400 acres of cotton, 600 acres of bahiagrass, 300 acres of cantaloupes, 500 acres of centipede and Bermuda sod and 500 acres of timberland. In addition, the Forresters own and operate their own peanut-shelling facility and work in partnership with Colorado River Indian Tribes in Parker, Ariz., to produce 500 additional acres of seed peanuts.
Despite his success, Glenn said he is most proud of how the farm has helped the community. Through its various enterprises, the farm provides a living for about 15 families. Glenn says these employees are vital to the operation, so he tries to share his success with them through bonuses and other benefits.
The family partnership includes Glenn, his brother Ted, and their sons, Jared and Arnie. Glenn and Ted run the sod operation; Jared is responsible for the row crops and shelling operation; and Arnie manages the vegetable crops. This division of responsibility has allowed the Forresters to expand their operation while exploring opportunities to add value to their products.
"Some of the enterprises we're in -- the vegetables and the centipede sod -- actually came as an outgrowth of the pedigreed peanut seed business in that we can only grow seed one year out of three in a rotation program for certification," Glenn said.
As the 2006 Alabama Farm of Distinction, the Forresters received a John Deere Gator CX valued at more than $5,000 donated by Wire Road Tractor in Auburn, Lawn & Leisure in Montgomery, Deep South Tractor in Samson and Andalusia and Henry Farm Center with stores in Abbeville, Brundidge and Dothan. In addition, Alabama Farmers Cooperative presented them a $1,000 gift certificate, redeemable at any of its member Quality Co-op stores, and the Alabama Farmers Federation and Alfa Health also gave the family an engraved, farm sign valued at more than $1,300.
Swisher International of Jacksonville, Fla., will pay for the Forresters' trip to the Sunbelt Expo in October, where they will receive a $2,500 cash award as Alabama's winner and compete for $14,000 and other prizes.
The Farm of Distinction each year recognizes one Alabama farm that excels in management, conservation and environmental practices as well as overall appearance and leadership of the farm owner.
Other finalists for the Farm of Distinction were: Mike and Regina Carnes of Marshall County, Dell and Carolyn Hill of Selwood Farm in Talladega County, Leonard and Frances Brown of Chambers County, Arlan and Lawana Shelly of Escambia County and Archie and Shepard Sims of Faunsdale Plantation in Marengo County. Each of the finalists received a plaque and a $250 gift certificate from Alabama Farmers Cooperative.
The Farm-City Committee of Alabama presents the Farm of Distinction Award annually. Farm-City Week is observed nationally each year the week before Thanksgiving as a way to help bridge the gap between rural and urban residents.