Drummond Sparks Beef

Ron Dugger, left, Manager of Drummond Sparks Beef, greets guests during the 2016 Farm City tour at the 3,800-acre cattle ranch he oversees in southwest Cullman County.

BENJAMIN BULLARD | THE CULLMAN TIMES

The Cullman County Farm–City Committee wants to invite you on a fun and educational tour they have planned for October 23. The main goal of Farm-City is to deepen understanding of the relationship between rural farmers and urban workers. The 2017 Farm-City theme is “Agriculture: Food for Life.” Every year one of the highlights of our efforts is a regional tour and this year’s tour will take us to Alabama’s largest urban center, Birmingham.

We will travel on Wallace State’s comfortable air-conditioned bus that can seat up to 50 people. This will be our tour limit and you must pre-register to reserve your seat for this free tour. We will gather to depart at 8:15 a.m. and should arrive back by 3:30 p.m. Those who pre-register will be given departure location and details at the time they pre-register.

The first stop on the tour will be the Birmingham Botanical Gardens (BBG). The BBG is Alabama's largest living museum with more than 12,000 different plants in its living collections. The Gardens' 67.5 acres contains 25 unique gardens and miles of serene paths. The BBG is the most visited free attraction in Alabama, is open daily, offering free admission to more than 350,000 yearly visitors.

After a nice hike around the gardens I expect folks will be ready for some great food and we have a treat (dutch treat that is) planned with a visit to Niki’s West. Niki’s West has been serving the greater Birmingham, area since 1957. Owners, Pete and Teddy Hontzas, are second-generation owners who took over the business from their father, the late Gus P. Hontzas who came to America from Greece in the mid 1900’s. With humble, beginnings and an extensive menu with very delicious food, Niki’s West is truly Birmingham’s unique restaurant, serving high quality meals with great service. The cafeteria-style food line moves fast so be ready to order quickly. Expect to pay $10-$15 for this scrumptious meal depending upon how big an appetite you bring with you.

After lunch we will make our way a couple miles east to the Golden Flake factory for a tour of this iconic business (children must be 5 or older). Golden Flake was founded in 1923 in the basement of a Hill's Grocery store in north Birmingham. In addition to chips in iconic flavors like Sweet Heat, cheese puffs, cheese curls, tortilla chips, snack crackers and several other flavored chips are made at Golden Flake's sprawling factory complex. Hopefully, they will have some samples hot out of the fryer - yum.

Lastly, we will trek across downtown to Jones Valley Teaching Farm. Their mission mirrors that of the Farm-City committee in many ways. They accomplish their mission by collaborating with schools to provide students with innovative and rigorous hands-on food and nutrition education. That sounds a lot like our 2017 theme: Agriculture: Food for Life.

If you would like to join is on this full day tour please let us know by calling the Cullman County Extension office at 256-737-9386 or email us at cullmancounty@aces.edu

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