AMAZING AG: Farm City junior ambassadors take part in agriculture tour

Published 4:00 am Wednesday, October 31, 2018

The 2018/2019 Pike County Junior Ambassadors participated the Pike County Chamber of Commerce Agriculture, Forestry and Conservation Tour on Tuesday. The tour was guided by Chamber President Kathy Sauer and included stops in Troy, Brundidge and Banks.

Sauer said the group learned more along the way about the Farm City Committee, which is an arm of the chamber, agriculture, conservation and related topics.

“The tour focused on the past to present and the Green Belts that surround cities and their significance,” Sauer said. “The tour started at the Pioneer Museum of Alabama and gave our ambassadors an opportunity to learn more about agriculture in the past.”

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Barbara Tatom, museum director, guided the Junior Ambassadors on a tour that included the Adams Store that she said was “a precursor to Walmart” and the exhibits that related specifically to agriculture. Many of those artifacts were donated by residents of Pike County, Tatom said.

“The Junior Ambassadors learned that our early pioneers didn’t have the convenience of store-bought items,” Sauer said. “They had to make or grow most everything they had.”

At the Adams Store, Tatom pointed out boxes that appeared to contain gun shells but actually contained heels for shoes.

“Back then, people didn’t buy new shoes when the old ones wore out. They repaired them,” Tatom said.

Following the museum tour, the group traveled to Sun South in Brundidge for an overview of farm equipment.

Danny Truong found it interesting that there are so many different kinds of farm equipment and so many different implements.

“But what was most interesting to me was how much the equipment costs,” he said. “Farming requires a huge investment and it requires a lot of time and great dedication. We often overlook that.”

The Junior Ambassadors were given a driving tour of Brundidge and discussed the importance of agriculture to small, rural communities. The Johnson Mill Museum was where the first peanut butter was made commercially in the Southeast. The peanut butter mills sustained the small town during the Great Depression by providing jobs and an affordable source of protein for the local residents.

The group then visited the Jesse Wheeler farm near Pronto. Wheeler’s farming operation includes poultry, row crops, cattle and hay.

“I was amazed by how much a poultry farm costs,” said Sarah Todd Floyd. “Mr. Wheeler said his chicken houses cost a half-million dollars and the cost is now up 25 percent. I was amazed, too, at the way technology has changed farming.”

The junior ambassadors made a quick stop at Banks Buy Rite were owner Al Rotton talked with them about the significance of rural general stores. Rotton said the Buy Rite serves as a gathering place for farmers and provides a sounding board for the ups and downs of their chosen occupation.

Lunch was provided at John and Carol Dorrill’s Clay Hill Farms. Carol Dorrill told the group their farm has undergone great change over the years.

“This land was once covered in kudzu and full of gullies,” she said. “By using good conservation practices, it is what you see today. This land does not belong to us. God loans it to us. We are dedicated to keeping it healthy and progressive.”

For Sarah Elizabeth Calhoun, the agriculture tour was an eye-opening experience.

“There is much more to agriculture than farming and animals,” she said. “Agriculture provides job opportunities in areas like accounting, marketing and teaching.”

Sauer said the Junior Ambassadors were attentive listeners and eager to ask questions.

“The tour was a great opportunity for them to learn more about agriculture in Pike County. I believe they gained a lot of knowledge and have a greater understanding of and appreciation for those in the agricultural community.”