MONTGOMERY — Activities designed to build bridges between rural and urban residents earned Coffee and Pike counties top honors during the Alabama Farm-City Awards May 12, with Barbour County being awarded Innovative Idea Honorable Mention. The event was held via livestream after COVID-19 restrictions forced the cancellation of an April 2 luncheon in Birmingham.

“Coronavirus has highlighted what Farm-City volunteers have known for years — we are all dependent on one another to get food and fiber from farms to our families,” said Alabama Farm-City Committee Chairman Jeff Helms. “From farmers and forest owners to truckers and manufacturers to grocers and chefs, it takes all of us working together to ‘Keep Alabama Growing.’”

Originally observed in 1955, Farm-City Week is celebrated immediately before Thanksgiving, but county events extend throughout fall. During the awards program, counties were recognized in two divisions based on population. Coffee County was named Best Farm-City Committee in Division 1 (for larger counties), while Pike County won the top award in Division 2 (for less populated counties).

Coffee County’s Farm-City activities included a tour of farms and agribusinesses; a banquet with 350 people in attendance; a press day; the Real McCoy’s Luncheon to honor older farmers; a petting zoo for 1,000 preschool children; pumpkins on the square in Elba; and more. Coffee County also won Division 1 awards for Best Media Coverage and Proclamation and Best Scrapbook.

In addition to a tour, banquet and extensive media coverage, Pike County was singled out for a photography exhibit of old barns, which was donated to the public library; a tree giveaway; donation of peanuts to educators in their “We’re Nuts About Teachers” program; a third-grade farm day for 350 students; a job swap between a farmer and the probate judge; and other events. Pike County won Division 2 awards for Best Media Coverage and Proclamation, Best Civic Club Activities and Best Special Activities.

Alabama’s 2019 Farm-City theme was “Keep Alabama Growing,” and many activities incorporated educational components highlighting the economic impact of agriculture and forestry.

Runners-up in the county competitions were Cullman County, Division 1, and Cherokee County, Division 2. Cullman also won the Innovative Idea Award and was recognized for Best Civic Club Activities in Division 1. Cherokee County’s Division 2 honors included the Innovative Idea Award and Target Award for best incorporating the theme.

Individual awards were presented to Bob Harris of Lee County and Phillip Carter of Houston County.

Harris was named Volunteer of the Year for stepping up as county chairman when unforeseen circumstances left the seat vacant. During Harris’s two-year tenure, the committee increased participation in existing programs and initiated new projects. He was praised by fellow county committee members for his enthusiasm and creativity.

Carter won the Service Award for going the extra mile as an employee of the Alabama Cooperative Extension System in service to the county committee. He was described as one of Farm-City’s most vocal advocates, consistently promoting the program to students, teachers, farmers and business owners.

A program listing all county winners, along with student Farm-City awards, is available at AlabamaFarmCity.org. Farm-City Week 2020 is Nov. 20-26 with the theme “Sweet Grown Alabama.”

Other Division 1 Winners:

Lee County — Best Farm-City Tour

Colbert County — Best Farm-City Breakfast, Lunch or Dinner

Houston County — Best Special Activities

Dale County — Target Award

Other Division 2 Winners:

Chambers County — Best Farm-City Tour and Best Scrapbook

Fayette County — Best Farm-City Breakfast, Lunch or Dinner

Barbour County — Innovative Idea Honorable Mention

Lawrence County — Innovative Idea Honorable Mention

The main goal of Alabama Farm-City is to deepen understanding of the relationship between rural farmers and urban workers. The 2019 Alabama Farm-City theme was “Keep Alabama Growing.”

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