December 26, 2017
By Mary Johnson
Farmers, statesmen and business owners joined Gov. Kay Ivey on Alabama’s Capitol grounds in November to cultivate stronger connections between urban and rural communities through the simple act of planting a tree.
The event kicked off Farm-City Week, which is observed annually the week before Thanksgiving. It also helped fulfill a challenge from Rotary International President Ian H.S. Riseley for every Rotarian to plant a tree before Earth Day 2018. Ivey has been a Rotarian since the early ‘90s, and her farm was recently certified as an Alabama TREASURE Forest.
“Growing up in L.A. — that’s Lower Alabama — where we have more trees than people, cars or buildings combined, I have a unique appreciation for trees and what they symbolize,” Ivey said. “Our state is blessed with thousands of acres of timberland, and we should do all we can to protect those timberlands and to engage in conservation efforts, which means to plant trees like we’re doing today.”
Last fall, the Alabama Farm-City Committee distributed informational resources to every Rotary Club in the state to help meet the tree-planting challenge. The chapters also received a copy of the book I Can Name 50 Trees Today! from the Cat in the Hat’s Learning Library, donated by the Alabama TREASURE Forest Association.
While the tree-planting project was meant to make a lasting difference in local communities, Alabama is already blessed with forested lands. The state ranks third in the contiguous U.S. for timberland acreage, and the forestry industry provides over 122,000 jobs. Since 1990, over 3,150 trees have been planted for each baby born in Alabama. The Shumard oak Ivey planted was grown at and donated by Hunter Trees LLC in Talladega County.
“This time of year, most of us remember to give thanks to farmers who help provide food we enjoy, but agriculture gives us more than that,” said Jeff Helms, Alabama Farm-City Committee chairman. “If not for farmers and landowners, we wouldn’t have wood for our homes, paper for businesses or habitat for wildlife.”
Originally celebrated in 1955, Farm-City Week aims to foster understanding between farmers and their urban neighbors. Helms said thousands of students created posters, essays and multimedia presentations inspired by the 2017 Farm-City Week theme — “Agriculture: Food for Life.” Hundreds of county volunteers hosted farm-to-table dinners, business breakfasts, agricultural industry tours and other programs. County and student winners will be honored at the Alabama Farm-City Awards Luncheon April 5 in Birmingham.
For more information and resources, visit AlabamaFarmCity.org.