Nuffield scholars tour Blount County farms

County Agent’s Corner

Photo line: Nuffield Australia scholars learned much about peanut production while touring Miller Farms. From left: Andre Henry, Simon Cook, Robert Nijkamp, Steve Grist, Jimmy Miller, Lance Miller, Stephanie Miller, Dylan Hirsch, and Steuart McDonald. Henry, Grist, Hirsch, and McDonald are from Australia, Cook is from New Zealand, and Nijkamp is from the Netherlands.

Photo line: Nuffield Australia scholars learned much about peanut production while touring Miller Farms. From left: Andre Henry, Simon Cook, Robert Nijkamp, Steve Grist, Jimmy Miller, Lance Miller, Stephanie Miller, Dylan Hirsch, and Steuart McDonald. Henry, Grist, Hirsch, and McDonald are from Australia, Cook is from New Zealand, and Nijkamp is from the Netherlands.

Nuffield Australia scholars visited Blount County farms last week to see how our agriculture producers work their farms and commodities they produce. The scholars must have a farming background and are selected from a pool of applicants. They tour worldwide, visiting different types of farms in different countries. They all have a different background and different interest. Among them were a micro-greens and edible flower producer, a poultry producer, a grain producer, a kiwi grower, and a student of banking and financial aspects of farming. They were a very interesting group of folks. Four were from Australia, one from New Zealand, and one from the Netherlands. They had been in India recently and had flown into Alabama from Washington, D.C. They mentioned labor issues as the one common problem they heard from every place they visited. The lack of labor in agricultural production is a worldwide problem, not just a Blount County or Alabama problem.

They began their day on Calvert Farms in Cullman County. Jeremy Calvert grows a variety of fruit and vegetable crops. They proceeded to Riverwood Farms, located on the Blount/ Cullman County line on the Mulberry Fork of the Locust Fork River. Part of the farm is in Blount County, but most of it lies in Cullman County. Riverwood Farms is primarily a hunting operation offering deer, quail, and other hunting opportunities. After a lunch of Alabama catfish and shrimp, they toured Debter Farms in the Snead community. Debter Hereford Farm is known across the U.S. for their registered Hereford cattle and bull sales. A few miles later they were at Miller Farms, just north of Snead, looking at cotton and peanut production. They were also able to tour the poultry houses that the Millers own (they were out of birds).

If you happened to see a copy of the Southeastern Farm Press last week you saw Jimmy Miller’s picture on the front page! Congratulations to Jimmy for winning the 2018 Farm Press Peanut Efficiency award for the lower Southeastern Region. If you go to the Farm Press website at www.southeastfarmpress.com you can read the article. They also have a slide show of Jimmy and Nell, Lance, Stephanie, and the children. Miller Farms has always been very active in agriculture and related activities on local, regional, and national levels.

The tour group asked a lot of questions and took a lot of pictures. They were impressed with what we have going on here in Blount County, and rightfully so. Our farmers are some of the best folks and producers you will find anywhere!

A few years ago we had a group of farmers from Azerbaijan come to the county to visit with our tomato growers. Two things they were impressed with, that I remember, were the road system we have to get our crop to market and the number of tractors and other equipment on the farm. I think we sometimes take those types of things for granted. I’ll be honest with you, when I was asked to assist with this Azerbaijan tour, I had to get the map out and see where the country was located!

Agriculture is important in this county and the state of Alabama. You don’t have to look far to find the best producers in the South; they’re right here in Blount County.

The 2018 Vegetable Festival at the Farmers Market is this Saturday, July 21. Farmers will donate produce to give away and there are some other activities planned as well. This date was picked because most of our fruit and vegetable crops are at peak harvest. I hope to see you there!

Dan Porch is County Extension Coordinator with the Blount County Extension Office. Dan lives in and loves Blount County and is available to answer your questions about conservation, agriculture, natural resources, and gardening. He can be reached at (205) 274-2129 or porchdw@aces.edu.