Lee County Farm Bureau brings local food and farm activities to their neighbors
Lee County was one of 24 county Farm Bureaus nationwide recently recognized by the American Farm Bureau Federation for innovative program ideas in this year’s County Activities of Excellence Awards program
Planting plants with those attending fair. This booth was manned by our Farm-City Committee. One of the positives of the fair was all the groups who worked together to make the event possible.
In recent years Lee County (AL) Farm Bureau was primarily viewed as an insurance organization. Membership and support had decreased, and the county board felt there was a real need to educate others about our purpose, community activities, and the positive influence Farm Bureau has on the community.
The objectives of a project were to create a positive image and perception of Farm Bureau to the community, to share an awareness of Farm Bureau benefits available (soil testing, forage tests, political advocacy, discounts from various businesses, scholarships for local college students and support of youth organizations), provide a connection between consumers and local agricultural producers and provide an opportunity for consumers to purchase local farm produce. They also wanted to provide exposure to various aspects of local commodity agriculture, including the equipment needed for planting and harvest and present it in an educational and fun way.
The main focus of the day was to instill a positive view of agriculture and Lee County Farm Bureau in the minds of all who attended. Locally grown produce and crafts were sold, and they featured livestock exhibits, farm equipment, and a petting zoo. Entertainment was provided for all ages, including a pedal tractor race for the little ones. Everyone was served a free barbecue lunch. Attendees experienced a full day of fun while learning about local farms and the Farm Bureau.
The 45-plus volunteers prepared for an attendance of 1,500 to see the 35 different exhibits, but, to our surprise, we had over 4,000 participants, almost triple our expected attendance. We ran out of food, and vendors sold out of produce.
Pedal tractor races for the children. Young Farmers and Ranchers provided manpower for this event.
People continued to arrive and enjoy the exhibits and displays. I heard an attendee say, “We did not come for the food, but for the children to see the animals and participate in the fun.” The comments they received for the next several weeks were extremely positive for providing fun activities for young and old, with pedal-tractor races being a highlight of the day. The local newspaper gave them front page coverage with a fantastic article.
Here is how they did it: “Prior to the event, we saturated the area with advertising using newspapers, radio, television, flyers and posters. Personal letters of invitation were written to dignitaries. Members distributed flyers to daycare centers, schools, civic clubs, etc., and we hung posters in local businesses. Each attendee received a pamphlet specific to our county, featuring photos of local farmers, youth and other county residents and focused on the benefits of Farm Bureau. Vendors (free barbecue lunch, farmers with produce, livestock, plants for sale, etc.) set up around the perimeter with entertainment, farm equipment, and our Farm Bureau disaster trailer in the center.
A variety of fresh produce was for sale by vendors, as well as locally grown plants.
“An effort was made to involve as many agricultural people as possible. FFA and 4-H were in charge of livestock exhibits; Farm Bureau members cooked Boston butts; and 4-Hers chopped meat and served lunch. Members rode an ATV around the fair, distributed water, and helped take purchased produce to vehicles. Exhibits included Farm-City and Farm Bureau Women’s Committees, which provided educational material and hands-on activities for children and adults. Our Young Farmers Committee hosted the pedal-tractor racing for children, and it was one of our most popular events.
“As far as any of our Farm Bureau board members can recollect, an activity of this significance and scope has not been executed in our county or state by Farm Bureau. We tailored all distributed literature to our county, showing local producers and other benefits of Farm Bureau. We know this is now being considered by other counties to promote their Farm Bureaus. Our active involvement in promoting Farm Bureau benefits to encourage others to join was also unique. We had not only Farm Bureau members working, but civic clubs, Chambers of Commerce and others to make this day a success. Our Farm Bureau worked diligently on this project, and we saw a growth in pride, communication, and friendship to build on for our next event.”