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 2007. The winner will be named at the Federation’s
86th annual meeting in December. This month, Neighbors profiles five commodity division winners. Look for features on the six finalists in the coming months.As a city-dweller from Enterprise, Andy Lavender couldn’t figure out why his country cousins and Uncle Carl Sanders didn’t spend more time hunting and fishing when they lived right there next to it on the land they farmed.”Of course, they were working,” said Andy. “I was just goofing off.”But somewhere along the line, the farming bug bit. Now he can’t imagine any other lifestyle for himself, wife Dixie and daughter Addie.
He and his Uncle Carl, a board member of the Alabama Farmers Federation, now farm 150 acres of cotton and 70 acres of peanuts in three counties. “I tell everybody I farm in Pike, Coffee and Dale counties, and I only have 200 acres,” he says, laughing.
“I guess I always figured there’d be lots of land to rent, and the farm would just get bigger and bigger,” Andy said. “Well, that hasn’t happened. It’s been very slow adding land ’cause I’ve never cut anybody’s throat for land, and I’m not planning on it. So, I just haven’t been able to expand.”So, Andy — a self-described row crop farmer from the city — stepped out in faith and built six 42-foot by 500-foot broiler houses on his largest piece of land. “I built them just so I could keep farming,” said Andy. “There’s just not enough land to go around.”He says he’s not nervous about this new venture into poultry farming. “I’ve been around it a lot — and I got into it anyway.”