Farm-City Celebrations Culminate In Birmingham
By Maggie Edwards
Present and future generations of agriculturalists were honored for outstanding outreach efforts and creativity during the annual Farm-City Awards Luncheon and Program April 13 in Birmingham.
Over 400 attendees gathered as students, families and county committees were recognized for hard work and dedication to agriculture.
Alabama Farm-City Committee Chair Jeff Helms said Farm-City is among the most impactful programs the Alabama Farmers Federation supports and has the potential to touch all segments of society.
“Students learn the importance of agriculture and forestry through contests, and they carry those lessons with them into adulthood,” Helms said. “Government and business leaders are reintroduced to farming in their counties through tours, banquets and other events. Meanwhile, our farm families are encouraged through shared service, fellowship and recognition. This awards program is an annual celebration of all these activities.”
The 2022 theme was Sustaining For The Future, a play on the “Down To Earth: Agriculture Sustains Alabama” campaign that encouraged conservation awareness throughout 2022.
Creative Students Honored
During the awards program, Kindergarten through 12th-grade students were honored for participating in poster, essay and video contests.
Winners and runners-up received medals and cash awards from Alabama Farmers Cooperative, which also provided matching cash awards for schools of first- and second-place entries.
The winners’ works were showcased during the awards luncheon, and the Top 12 posters will be featured in the 2024 Alabama Farm-City Calendar.
Poster Contest, Kindergarten-Third Grade
- First place and $200: Kaitlyn Williams, Reeltown Elementary School, Tallapoosa County
- Second place and $100: Eliza Joy Hunter, Bethel Christian Academy, Houston County
- Third place and $75: Lilli Norris, Bagley Elementary School, Jefferson County
- Fourth place and $60: Ryen Espana, First Assembly Christian School, Clay County
- Fifth place and $40: Anslee Russell, Lynn Elementary School, Winston County
- Sixth place and $25: Charlee Bea Stone, American Christian Academy, Tuscaloosa County
Poster Contest, Fourth-Sixth Grade
- First place and $200: Mattox Blankenship, Ariton School, Dale County
- Second place and $100: Easton Marable, Radney Elementary School, Tallapoosa County
- Third place and $75: Pruitt Woods, Moulton Elementary School, Lawrence County
- Fourth place and $60: Alex Coy Owens, Prattville Intermediate School, Autauga County
- Fifth place and $40: Addison Heath, Sulligent Elementary School, Lamar County
- Sixth place and $25: Hannah Grace Aldridge, Homeschool, Homeschool, Fayette County
Essay Contest, Seventh-Ninth Grade
- First place and $300: Zach Doty, Corner High School, Jefferson County
- Second place and $200: Madelyn Kaley, Ragland High School, St. Clair County
Essay Contest, 10th-12th Grade
- First place and $300: Lydia Maple, Lakeview Christian, Lee County
- Second place and $200: McKensie Sanford, Corner High School, Jefferson County
Video Contest Winners
- First place and $300: Christian Burks, The Well Christian Academy, Marshall County
- Second place and $200: Emily Smith, Houston County Career Academy, Houston County
Outstanding Counties, Leaders Honored
In addition to student winners, local leaders and Farm-City committees were recognized for their efforts to bridge the gap between farmers and their urban neighbors through creative projects, events and outreach.
Alabama Farm Credit provided cash prizes for winning committees. Division winners received $300 while runners-up earned $200. Additionally, category winners received $100 per category.
Division I represents counties with a population of more than 35,600, while Division II represents smaller-population counties.
Division I Winners
- Cullman County: Best Farm-City Committee; Best Civic Club Activities; Target Award
- Autauga County: Runner-Up Best Farm-City Committee; Best Farm-City Tour; Best Media Coverage & Proclamation
- Coffee County: Scrapbook Award
- Houston County: Best Farm-City Dinner
- St. Clair County: Best Special Activities; Innovative Idea Award
Division II Winners
- Geneva County: Best Farm-City Committee; Best Farm-City Tour; Best Scrapbook
- Cherokee County: Runner-up Best Farm-City Committee; Best Civic Club Activities; Best Farm-City Dinner
- Barbour County: Innovative Idea Award; Target Award
- Fayette County: Best Special Activities
- Lawrence County: Best Media Coverage & Proclamation
Additionally, Deborah Huggins Davis of Pike County was named the 2022 Farm-City Volunteer of the Year, while the 2022 Farm-City Service Award was presented to Alabama Forestry Commission’s Brady Dunn of Houston County.
Haynes Family Earns Farm Of Distinction Title
To conclude the program, Haynes Farm of Cullman County was named Alabama’s 2023 Farm of Distinction. The Haynes family, led by Darrel and Lydia, prioritizes land stewardship on their 4,000 acres of pasture for beef cattle and 1,500 acres of row crops. They will represent Alabama during the Sunbelt Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year contest this fall.
Darrel and Lydia farm alongside their sons, Ben and Bart, in Fairview.
“There’s nothing I deserve any honor about,” Darrel said. “You know, I’ve just gotten to be a caretaker for a little bit of God’s stuff. He gave me Lydia, and he gave me Ben and Bart, and gosh, they are such fine men, such hard workers.”
The Hayneses are raising the 7th generation on the farm, too, through Ben and wife Whitney’s six children — Jack, Lola, Charlie, Caroline, Pruett and Rueben.
“We wean and background the calves we raise,” Ben said. “Our product is an 800- to 900-pound feeder calf, and we sell those in load lots that are bound for feed yards north and west of here. As far as the row crop operation, about a third of our ground will be in corn, a third full-season soybeans and a third will be planted in wheat we will follow with soybeans. We will take a lot of wheat to combine as well, but a lot of ground we will come back and plant a summer crop on is also land we’re grazing feed cattle on in the winter.”
Lydia, who serves on the Federation’s State Women’s Committee, said she appreciates the honor to represent Alabama farm families regionally. A retired physical therapist, she said she’s grateful to spend each day on the farm.
“How many women in this world have the opportunity to work with their husbands, work with their sons — side by side — and can look back at the end of the day and say, ‘Goodness, what a job well done?’” she said. “There’s so much satisfaction in that.”
As the Farm of Distinction, the Haynes family nets an engraved farm sign from the Federation and Alfa Insurance; a John Deere Gator from SunSouth, TriGreen and John Deere; $1,000 gift certificate from Alabama Farmers Cooperative; and $1,000 from First South Farm Credit.