Agricultural attractions of Polk County

This past Saturday, I took my nephew Samuel with me for a morning of agriculture related events. Our first stop was to a demonstration of a piece of equipment called a Commercial Brush Mulcher, which was recently added to the line of services offered by a local company.  Before we were even out of the car, Samuel said, “That thing is cool!” Now, you have to understand that this statement is coming from an eight-year-old boy who has both of his wrists in casts.  The question that is probably coming to your mind is, “How did he manage that?” And my response has been, “He’s an eight-year-old boy!” Enough said.  Anything that has a destructive application has his attention, so this piece of equipment was right up his alley.  Plus, if you grow up in Polk County and your family has access to heavy farm equipment, you get initiated at a young age….

The Commercial Brush Mulcher, attached to the front of a Skid Steer, clears overgrown pastures, trails, and along fence lines in short order.  We watched it clear half an acre in less than 30 minutes. Trees up to eight-inches in diameter became an evenly distributed later of mulch on the ground in minutes. Yes, it was super cool! And a great service for our landowners who have acreage they want “reclaimed” and put to use.

Our next stop was to a local Farm and Landscape supplier in Mill Spring where a “Livestock Event” was taking place.  On the way there, my nephew said, “I want to see pigs!” I said, “I’m sure we will see chickens and maybe some goats, but not sure about pigs.”  Arriving at the location, I had to search for a spot to park so as not to block all of the in-and-out traffic and livestock trailers.  A lineup of vehicles – cars, trucks, and trailers – were easily spotted with plenty of livestock available.  Chickens and turkeys in cages beside vehicles were readily seen.  Goats in the back of pickups, bleating for attention, could be seen and heard.  As we started down the line, asking appropriate questions regarding breed, age, sex, and cost, I finally asked, “Any pigs??”

Three people simultaneously pointed down the line.  The last four trucks and trailers had an assortment of swine – black, white, spotted, eight weeks to four months in age.  One was being carried around by a cute little farm girl trying to find it a “good home”.  The others – not in a cuddle phase, were also looking for short-term good homes… if you know what I mean.  Samuel jumped up on a trailer hitch to get a good view of pigs in the back of a pickup.  Thankfully, he did not fall in and break his nose.  I would not have enjoyed explaining that one at the hospital.  We left without any purchases as our farm is currently at management capacity.  We did, however, enjoy coffee and doughnuts and conversation with neighbors.

As I was chatting with a local farmer, there was a commotion at the end of the livestock line where a very lively little hen had escaped her enclosure and was being chased down by six helpers. I could tell that she was of the game bird type which are very agile and good at avoiding predators.  My first thought was, “She will be seen occasionally down Mill Spring for weeks to come.” But I watched as one farmer, cell phone to his ear deep in conversation, walked up to the circle of helpers, quickly scooped up the bird, and handed her back to the owner – never missing a breath in his phone conversation.  My respect for farmers increased again.  They do AMAZING things everyday with the attitude of it being a part of a normal day.

Thank you citizens of Polk County for making Agriculture a main attraction in our community.

– Dawn Jordan, Director, Polk County Office of Agricultural Economic Development

Introducing…

… this year’s AmeriCorps Service Members!  Amy and Alex will be serving at the Polk County Office of Agricultural Economic Development for the next year and will work to preserve farmland, support beginning and experienced farmers, and strengthen ties between farmers and consumers in the county.

me

Amy DeCamp – Farm & Consumer Outreach Specialist

Amy grew up in a small beach town on Long Island, NY where she was taught to swim in the frigid waters of the Long Island Sound alongside prehistoric horseshoe crabs and gelatinous jellyfish. She was also lucky to have spent her childhood camping in the Catskill Mountains – floating down the Delaware River and singing songs while bald American eagles soared overhead. She developed a deep respect for the natural world at a young age as a result of these experiences. Amy went on to attend the University at Albany, State University of New York, and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. From there, she spent several years working as an executive recruiter in New York. While recruiting provided Amy with valuable skills and experience, she ultimately realized that she wanted to transition her career to focus on environmental conservation and advocacy. Most recently, Amy has worked on small-scale organic farms throughout the South and in Western North Carolina to promote sustainable agricultural practices and to support local food systems. She is excited to be serving as Farm and Consumer Outreach Specialist this year!

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Alex Kazer – Conservation Education & Outreach Coordinator

Alex hails from the suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia. After graduating from the University of Georgia with degrees in International Affairs and Arabic, he spent two years researching and working on refugee issues in Jordan and another year teaching at the American University of Iraq –Sulaimani. Seeking a change of scenery, he left the Middle East to explore the hidden corners of Europe. During his wanderings, he discovered a passion for farming while working on a goat dairy in Sweden. Alex spent the next three years in Washington state learning to farm and gaining a deep appreciation for responsible land stewardship. He is excited to work with the farmers of Polk County to help preserve the agrarian traditions of the area and to bring more young farmers on to the land.