Sponsored each year by the Alabama Farmers Federation, the Outstanding Young Farm Family Awards Program recognizes young farmers between the ages of 17 and 35 who do an outstanding job in farm, home and community activities. Division winners representing 11 commodities were selected in February. Of those, six finalists will compete for the title of overall Outstanding Young Farm Family for 2009. The winner, who will be named at the Federation’s 88th Annual Meeting in December, will receive a John Deere Gator, courtesy of the Federal Land Bank of Alabama, $500 cash from Dodge, the use of a new vehicle and other prizes and will go on to compete at the national level for a new Dodge Ram 3500. This month, Neighbors profiles seven commodity division winners. Look for features on the six finalists in the coming months.Some folks can’t see the forest for the trees, but when Josh Smith looks at the 15 acres of longleaf pines he and his family planted last winter he sees his children.”I did it to build character for my kids,” says Smith, who also captured the Outstanding Young Farmers Federation’s Forestry Division in 2006. “By planting the trees, they will know later in life that they did something with their parents together.”Josh and his wife, Denise, daughter Jaycee (4) and son Seth (2) were only honoring a family tradition when the trees went into the ground last year. After all, Josh, who turns 31 this month, planted 26 acres of pines with his father when he was only 5.These youngest pines, Josh says, number about 485 trees per acre and will be used for power poles. Overall, the Smiths’ Randolph County farm operation, which includes his older brother Scott and father Jimmy, spans 62 acres in timber and 280 grazing acres.Then, there are the Smiths’ eight layer houses — two owned by Josh, two by Scott and four by their father. Litter is either stored in the farm’s drystack shed or spread on the pastures to boost its hay production.Josh, who until recently operated three log trucks, is now selling his trucks and trailers with plans to increase his cattle operation to 300 head.
OYFF: Smith Family Says Forestry Builds Character