By Loretta Gillespie
The Cullman Times
The upcoming Trigreen Farm Y’All Festival promises to be one of the season’s most interesting, enjoyable and educational events of the year.
A combined effort of the Alabama Cooperative System, the Cullman Area Chamber of Commerce, the Farm City Committee, and the Cullman County Master Gardener’s Association, sponsored by Trigreen Equipment, this festival is designed to bring awareness of local farmers and how they impact our community and our world.
Cullman County agriculture, forestry and related industries account for 15,555 jobs. The total economic impact is $2.4 billion dollars. In 2010, there were 2,465 farms in Cullman County.
The Farm Y’All Festival salutes those farmers and their families who make it possible for us to have access to the quality foods and produce provided by this hard-working group of people.
The kickoff dinner, sponsored by Traditions Bank and the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, organized by the Farm City Committee and assisted by the Master Gardeners Association, will be held in the lovely Rotunda, located in Cullman’s historic Warehouse District. The event will be catered by Chef Clif Holt, owner of Little Savannah, in Birmingham, with the assistance of Wallace State Community College Culinary Arts Director, Chef Chris Villa. The menu for the evening will include some of Cullman’s own locally grown foods, including sweet potato chips, followed by a chilled watermelon cucumber salad with lemon yogurt and blackberry-balsamic vinaigrette.
The entrée will be provided by local farmers and include some of Chef Holt’s creative recipe for rosemary roasted pork belly and braised back rib with heirloom tomatoes, grilled corn, peppers, peas and okra with Spanish sherry lacquer.
Dessert includes summer peach crème brulee with pecans, figs and berries.
Guest speaker, Dolores Hydock, an award-winning storyteller, will provide the evening’s entertainment. “My stories are mostly about what a terrible gardener and terrible cook I am — as opposed to the terrific farmers and cooks who will be in the room,” laughed Hydock.
"All the women in my family are cooks, but me,” Hydock admits. “I use my oven as a storage cabinet. It's where I keep half-empty boxes of Cheerios, unopened sacks of church fundraiser pecans, and, when unexpected company shows up, all the junk mail that has to be swept off the kitchen counter and hidden somewhere until all the visitors go away."
One of the main missions of the dinner, and of the event as a whole, is to showcase the local farmers and their role in Cullman’s agricultural development and economy.
Long time leaders in the poultry, beef and sweet potato industries, Cullman is also emerging as a top contender in several other categories. We are now ranked second in vegetable and melon farming, which contributed 0.5 percent of county’s total and was the fourth largest commodity.
Local farmers will be seated with the guests at each table in order to answer questions and to familiarize people with just what it is that they do. This gives people who work in other sectors of the business world an opportunity to shake the hand of the people who feed all of us.
The farm families will describe what their farms produce, how they go about growing their crops and commercial animals and how vitally important farming is to America, and to the world, in a competitive, global market.
All farmers agree that America produces the safest food in the world, after all, they are providing food for their own families as well. This is of critical importance when you consider the many recent recalls of various foods and other products imported from outside the United States.
The Farm Y’All Festival will showcase fresh produce at the Festhalle Market Platz Aug. 24. Local growers will proudly display their fresh foods, canned items and baked goods for the public in Alabama’s largest open-air timber framed structure.
Classes in preparing wholesome baby foods will be held at the Cullman County Museum. These classes are designed to show moms how to make a variety of nutritious, appetizing and easy to prepare foods for baby.
Everyone should make it a point to see the documentary film, “Eating Alabama”, directed by Alabama native and independent filmmaker, Andrew Beck Grace, who counts among his credits being a former fellow for CBP/PBS. This film is dedicated to farm culture, explaining the fact that our food comes from seeds that have been handed down from the earliest Native Americans and first European settlers, and how important it is that this tradition is preserved and continued for future generations. Grace also explores the disturbing fact that family farms are disappearing from our landscape.
The production includes a segment filmed on the Vinemont farm of Nathan and Anna Thompson. According to Thompson, the filmmaker spent three days shadowing him around the farm, picking up information and asking questions about the farming industry. Thompson’s farm includes a herd of approximately 500 cattle, six chicken houses, with some 600 acres devoted to these enterprises and over 3,000 acres leased to other farmers, including a hunting club in Cullman County.
The Thompsons are third-generation farmers on some of the same land that was farmed by his father and grandfather. “It’s a peaceful life, with so many activities tied to our community,” said Thompson. “Our days are not 9 to 5, though, and include long nights tending to cattle and chickens in all kinds of weather. That work ethic has to be instilled in a farmer.”
The event continues throughout the day and also includes a horseshoe tournament (register teams on the Chamber site) the 4-D Farms petting area, sack races, three-legged races and a watermelon spitting contest. Prizes for these events was donated by Cullman Dodge.
At noon, there will be a food demonstration centered around nutritious snacks and meals for those picky eaters in your family. A food preservation and video will follow.
Other ongoing events throughout the day include a giant pumpkin weigh-in, live music, a giant watermelon contest and much more.
Area 4-H clubs will be selling homemade vanilla ice cream and fried pies made by Raydonna Sims of the Alabama Extension System. Raydonna will have the peach, apple and sweet potato pies in the food vending area.
For the kids, there will be a cow patty drop game with prizes. Cookie the Cow, a Belted Galloway owned by Jay Conway, Regional 4-H Agent, will be on hand for the event, allowing children to see where their milk and butter originate.
Everyone is encouraged to come out and meet our local farmers, enjoy the friendly community atmosphere and sample Cullman’s great variety of wholesome, homegrown foods. The event is free to the public.
For more information, visit www.farmyall.com or call 256-734-0454.
Making baby food and tips on eating healthy.
10 to 11 a.m.
Jennifer Boyd and Jennifer Underwood, both mothers of young children will demonstrate how to prepare food for children and families from 6 months to adult and give tips on making healthy food that is both appetizing and easy to prepare.
Video: Eating Alabama, a story about why food matters.
11 a.m. to noon
In search of a simpler life, a young couple returns home to Alabama where they set out to eat the way their grandparents did—locally and seasonally…A thoughtful and often funny essay on community, the South and sustainability, “Eating Alabama” is a story about why food matters.
For more information visit www.eatingalabama.com
After the video, several local senior citizens, who were raised on a farm, will be on hand to answer questions on how farming was done when they were young.
Food Preparation Demonstration
Noon to 1 p.m.
Raydonna Sims, Extension Agent Assistant, will demonstrate how to make quick homemade pizza sauce and flatbread pizzas with vegetables from the garden, and how to “hide” vegetables in foods for persnickety eaters.
Food Preservation Demonstration and Video on Canning
1 to 2 p.m.
A demonstration on how to “water bath” can high acid foods (tomatoes), will be given by Raydonna Sims, Extension Agent Assistant. Also a video on canning foods will be shown. Raydonna will be on hand after the demonstration to answer food preservation questions.
Great Pumpkin Weigh-In
8 to 11 a.m. Registration- ($10 per entry)
11 a.m. to noon Judging
Noon to 2 p.m. Weigh-In
Great Food All Day
8 to 8:20 Rumors Deli – breakfast sample
8:35 to 8:55 Blue Moose- breakfast sample
9:10 to 9:30 All Steak Restaurant - Chef Matt Heim
10 to 10:45 Dyron’s Lowcountry – Chef Dyron Powell
11:15 to noon Highlands Bar and Grill – Chef Frank Stitt
12:30 to 1:15 Hot and Hot Fish Club – Chef Chris Hastings
1:45 to 2:30 Little Savannah – Chef Clif Holt
2:45 to 3:30 Wallace State Culinary Arts - Chef Chris Villa
Festhalle Market Platz
8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Contest, farmers market, food tasting, live music
Cullman County Museum - Education Classes
8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Baby food making demonstration
11 a.m. to noon Food demonstration (zucchini spaghetti)
1 to 2 p.m. Food demonstration
8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Cow Patty Bingo, petting zoo, contests, horseshoe contest, exhibitors