Pike Co. farmers showcased

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 23, 2000

on Deep South Tour


Features Editor

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What many people in Pike County don’t know is that every year for the past seven years one of the nation’s top publication companies has been conducting tours in our area, to give "foreigners" a taste of what the South is all about.

Twice in October and once in March, Reiman Publications of Greendale, Wis. sponsors a Deep South Tour which begins in Atlanta and routes itself through the farmland of west Georgia, the peanut country of South Alabama, along the coast of Mississippi with stops in New Orleans and the Mississippi Delta before doubling back through Alabama’s Black Belt and back to Atlanta.

When the tour comes to Pike County, Bill and Ann Sanders of Goshen are the hosts.

"This October, we had groups of 22 and 41, and, as usual, most of them are not farmers," Ann Sanders said. "Most of them are retired people who have never been on a farm. They join the tour because they want to see what farm life in the South is all about. We do our best to show them."

Usually the fall tour groups

get to visit a peanut field and sometimes even see the peanuts being harvested. However, this year the drought had taken a toll on the peanut crop and they missed getting their feet dusty and getting to see the goobers in the ground.

"We didn’t get to take them to the fields but we visited the co-op in Goshen and many of them – most of them – had never been inside a co-op store and they were amazed to see all of the products that a co-op carries," Sanders said. "After that, we took them to the Anderson Peanut Shelling Plant and they really enjoyed seeing that operation."

The members of the group were very inquisitive about peanut farming and were astonished by how much it costs to produce a crop.

"While Bill was going over the how much it costs to grow a crop and what the expected return can be, one of the tour leaders was plugging the numbers into a calculator," Sanders said. "When Bill finished, the man looked up at him and said, ‘You didn’t make anything this year.’ The group was impressed by the fact that so much time and money goes into a crop and how quickly it can be lost by circumstances beyond the farmer’s control."

Sanders said the members of the tour group asked all kinds of questions.

"They are interested in knowing more and delight in what they find," she said. "Most of them have never been to Alabama or the even the South. They seem to come away with a deeper appreciation of the South. They gain a better understanding of the plight of the farmer and the battles that have to be fought to get food for them. They have newfound respect for the farmer."

And, they also learn what is so great about Southern cooking.

The youth group at Goshen Baptist Church prepares dinner for the tour groups and they set the table with the typical Southern meal – fried chicken, dumplings, dressing, sweet potato souffle and banana pudding.

"They love the meal and always ask for recipes," Sanders said. "We are planning to put together a recipe booklet that future tour groups can take with them."

Sanders and she and her husband conduct the tours in order to promote the agricultural community of Alabama.

"We are proud of being a farm family and we don’t mind to take a couple of days a year to show these tourists what farm life in Alabama is all about," she said.

Many Pike Countians are familiar with Reiman Publications – "Country Magazine," "Farm and Ranch," "Reminisce Country Woman," "Taste of Home," "Birds and Blooms" and "Quick Cooking."

The worldwide tours sponsored by Reiman Publications are of the same high quality and standards as their publications, Sanders said.

"They are first-rate tours and we are fortunate that they bring groups here to showcase Pike County," Sanders said.