Bridge builders from Franklin and St. Clair counties took top honors at the Alabama Farm-City Awards Program and Luncheon April 7 in Birmingham for their work to cultivate understanding between farmers and their urban neighbors.
Alabama Farm-City Committee Chairman Jeff Helms said the 2021 theme, “Down To Earth: Agriculture Sustains Alabama,” was a rallying cry for county educational activities.
“Down to Earth highlights our shared responsibility for protecting the environment,” Helms said. “It reminds all Farm-City participants of their connection to Earth. Most importantly, Down to Earth provides a forum to understand the importance of sustaining farms and forestland for future generations. To do so, farmers must have the resources, tools, markets and financial opportunity to succeed.”
Farm-City Week was conceived in 1955 and is observed each year the week before Thanksgiving. Alabama’s 2021 observance was the primer for a year-long Down To Earth educational campaign developed by the Alabama Farmers Federation and other agricultural organizations.
County Farm-City activities were judged in two divisions. St. Clair County won the overall award among larger counties — population over 35,600 — while Franklin County took top honors among smaller counties. Alabama Farm Credit sponsored county awards for the second year providing $300 for each division winner, $200 for runners-up and $100 for division awards.
St. Clair County earned the Target Award for incorporating the Down to Earth theme into all activities including a series of eight virtual farm tours; civic club presentations; the annual Farm-City banquet; and Tomato Sandwich Day at the farmers market. The county’s Barn Quilt Trail won the Innovative Idea Award for Division 1. It encouraged rural and urban residents to paint traditional quilt designs on wooden panels for display during November. Teachers embraced the barn quilt idea, with students creating designs for fundraisers and to showcase their school colors.
Cullman County was runner-up in Division 1 and won category awards for Best Farm-City Tour and Scrapbook.
Franklin County wowed judges for its comprehensive Farm-City program. Activities included a Farm Day for 170 third graders; banquet with 190 guests; year-round civic club programs; extensive media coverage; agriculture-themed Christmas tree at the courthouse featuring 300 student-made ornaments; Down to Earth billboards; nursing home cotton sock donation; Farm-City poster displays; and distribution of educational materials to schools. County volunteers thoroughly documented their work, earning Franklin County the Scrapbook Award.
Division 2 runner-up was Pike County, which also was honored for Best Civic Club Activities.
In addition to group honors, the Farm-City Awards Program and Luncheon, held in conjunction with the Federation’s Women’s Leadership Conference, recognized two exceptional county Farm-City committee members.
Jackie Culpepper of Houston County was named Volunteer of the Year for her perennial contributions to the award-winning program. Culpepper works with local government officials to secure proclamations for Farm-City Week and is instrumental in coordinating tours and media coverage.
Abby Peters of Pike County earned the Farm-City Service Award for going above and beyond the call of duty as county Extension coordinator. Peters organized a touch-a-tractor event for students, coordinated virtual activities during the pandemic and delivered cookies to Troy Regional Medical Center as part of a Farm-City project.
Students were honored during the luncheon for their creative interpretation of Down to Earth through posters, essays and videos. Alabama’s Farm of Distinction and runner-up also were named.
Other Division 1 Winners
Dale County — Best Farm-City Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner and Best Special Activities
Houston County — Best Media Coverage/Proclamation and Best Civic Club Activities
Other Division 2 Winners
Fayette County — Best Farm-City Tour and Best Farm-City Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
Geneva County — Innovative Idea Award
Henry County — Best Media Coverage/Proclamation
Cherokee County — Best Special Activities and Target Award