Commodity Tours To Focus On College, Cattle, Callaway
By Darryal Ray
College, Callaway and cattle will highlight the tours as the Alabama Farmers Federation takes its 38th annual Commodity Producers Conference to Columbus, Ga., Aug. 5-7.
|A Commodity Producers Conference tour bus rolls through an Autauga County nursery.|
An estimated 800 farmers from all across Alabama are expected to attend the three-day event, which will feature motivational speaker/comedian Rik Roberts of Nashville at Thursday night's opening banquet.
Roberts' brand of comedy made him a favorite at The Improv, The Punchline, Funny Bone, The Stardome, Zanies and other well-known comedy clubs before launching his current career of corporate entertaining.
He has appeared on videos on Great American Country and appears regularly on syndicated morning shows. His dedication to "clean" comedy earned him an episode of the Emmy Award-winning Bananas Family Comedy show. Shortly after that, he was tapped to expand his Barney Fife impression on Comedy at Large.
Friday morning, attendees board buses to take their choice of five tours that will stop at agricultural points of interest.
Saturday is devoted to several seminars and workshops, including an overview of state highway regulations by representatives of the Alabama Departments of Public Safety, Revenue and Transportation. That seminar, which will also include a question-and-answer session, will cover topics of tags, weight restrictions, trailers and U.S. DOT regulations.
Saturday night's closing banquet will feature a surprise guest entertainer. Alfa Health, Alfa Dental and Swisher International/Sunbelt Ag Expo sponsor entertainment for both Thursday and Saturday nights.
"We're proud to return to Columbus, Ga., to give our members a view of what is happening in not only eastern Alabama but western Georgia as well, " said Jimmy Carlisle, director of the Federation's Governmental & Agricultural Programs Department. "While details of some of the workshops and seminars are still being worked out, this year's tours are sure to be a hit with our members."
The Yellow Tour will feature four stops at Georgia farms in Meriwether, Pike, Upson and Lamar counties. The first stop on the tour will be in Gay, Ga., where Quercas Cattle Company backgrounds stocker cattle and raises Foundation King-bred Quarter horses.
The Yellow Tour's second stop will be Molena, Ga., where Kensington Cattle Company raises more than 1,000 head of purebred Angus, whose offspring are used in herds all across the United States. Lunch will be at a unique farm specializing in cattle and agri-tourism. The Yellow Tour's final stop will be Honeywood Farm in Barnesville, Ga., a commercial cattle farm that raises calves and hay by utilizing an intensive rotational grazing system.
The Red Tour, which will require a good amount of walking, will travel to the popular Callaway Gardens, a 13,000-acre, award-winning luxurious resort in Pine Mountain, Ga. The buses provide an informative tour through the gardens, making their first stop at the Virginia Hand Callaway Discovery Center, a 35,000-square-foot facility that gives guests an overview of the gardens.
The tour will also stop at the John A. Sibley Horticultural Center, a one-of-a-kind garden/greenhouse encompassing five acres of native and exotic plants within its tropical conservatory; Mr. Cason's Vegetable Garden, a 7.5-acre demonstration garden; and Azalea Bowl, a 40-acre garden with more than 3,400 hybrid azaleas and over 2,000 trees and shrubs.
After lunch, the Red Tour will visit a production greenhouse that will provide an insider's view of where and how the plants are produced at Callaway. Tour-goers also will get a preview of seasonal displays and learn how staff horticulturists provide colorful plants year-round. The tour will not depart before 4 p.m.
The Green Tour is also heading to Pine Mountain, Ga., for the Ida Cason Callaway Foundation Preserve, a non-profit organization dedicated to land stewardship and environmental education. The Foundation provides educational workshops, seminars, lectures and interactive activities to teach people about the living world around them.
The Foundation Preserve covers roughly 14,000 acres -- 3,000 acres within the Callaway Gardens facility and the remaining 11,000 acres in a pristine forest setting with old abandoned house sites, mountain longleaf pines and mature hardwood creek bottoms occupying a site that was once primarily in farmland.
Green Tour participants will board wagons and travel through a portion of this preserve and see examples of the old and the new as the land has changed over time. Stops on the tour include the Steeplechase grounds at Callaway, mountain longleaf pine sites, pine thinning and prescribed burning sites, endangered plant species site, a restored eight-sided grain barn and other points of interest in the area.
The Green Tour also plans to visit the property of a well-known outdoor celebrity to see examples of wildlife management on a grand scale. More details of this stop are not yet available.
The Orange Tour heads off to college as it visits a number of facilities and programs at Auburn University, each of which plays a vital role in either agricultural research or promotion. Stops include the E.W. Shell Fisheries Unit, the Department of Biosystems Engineering's Bio Energy Lab and the Poultry Science Department's research farm.
The E.W. Shell Fisheries Unit is home to more than 200 ponds used for teaching and research. The Bio Energy Lab tour will inform participants about work being done to make fuels from various materials, including agricultural and timber byproducts.
The Poultry Research Farm is a scaled-down version of an entire poultry complex with everything from production building to a processing plant.
The Orange Tour will also join the Blue Tour for an overview of managing the athletic turf on campus, a demonstration by the College of Veterinary Medicine's Southeastern Raptor Center and lunch at Ag Heritage Park.
The Blue Tour's other stops include the Agricultural Research Service's National Soil Dynamics Laboratory, a driving tour of the "Old Rotation" and AU's Teaching Garden, a tour of the College of Veterinary Medicine's facilities and a visit to the Thompson-Bishop-Sparks State Diagnostic Lab. From relating soil dynamics to sustainable and profitable farm production, to state-of-the-art animal disease diagnostics and treatment, this tour will be of interest to folks involved in any area of production agriculture.
For more information, contact Ginger Mullins at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (334) 613-4293.