Ag Fair Morphs Into Major Community Do: Highlights Farm-based Biz



(Photo: Ivy Nakhleh urges Mr Buttons on as he runs the bunny obstacle course that was a prominent attraction at this year's Ag Fair.)

Just as Dade’s dynamic county agent, Katie Hammond, has improved and expanded the 4-H program in this once heavily agricultural county, which for years languished without any county agent at all, she seems to have exploded the program’s yearly “Ag Fair” into a major county event. The event was Thursday at the Ag Building in front of Dade Middle School and my dear, simply everyone was there! If you weren’t, how fortunate that The Planet was, and can offer you this pictorial tour.

Derick Forester of Forester Farms and Apiary in Rising Fawn (below) is a third-generation beekeeper who specializes in beehive woodenware and beekeeping supplies. He also gives beekeeping instruction and demonstrations and sells


honey to a select few longtime customers. “If I didn’t just cater to them I’d run out and I couldn’t supply them,” he said. Does that pique your entrepreneurial gland? The demand for homegrown honey far exceeds the supply, says Forester. For a quart jar, $20 is an entirely reasonable price.

But it’s not easy money, he warns. Earlier beekeepers didn’t have the mites and diseases that modern apiarists face, says Forester. “The biggest problem today is keeping bees alive,” he said.

Still, Forester’s got the “bug” and is “bee-deep” in the honey business. He travels to meetings and seminars at all the local bee societies and is in the process of converting his grandfather’s old house into a retail store, where he will have a honey extracting room. The local beekeeping society has a meeting the third Tuesday of every month at 7 p.m. right in the Ag Building, which for the uninitiated is the Quonset building in front of Dade Middle School on Highway 136 West. If you want to talk to Forester, you may call (423) 413-5370 or visit www.foresterfarmsandapiary.com.


At left, Anna Williamson of Chad McDill's Chiropractic Care office gives CarolAnn Cash a chiropractic screening. She is testing for posture and for the way CarolAnn distributes her weight between her two feet—two sets of scales show that the girl puts 10 pounds more on one foot than the other, and when she leans over one shoulder hangs lower than the other.

This, says Ms. Williamson, is a sign that chiropractic care may be in order. Dr. Chad and a number of other local doctors will give a variety of free medical, vision and hearing screenings this Saturday, Sept. 23, on the square in Trenton.

At right, Gardener and Connie Blevins, trustees of the Trenton Farm Bureau, explained that though


their office functions as a bank and an insurance agency—which sounds like a lot already—it is actually much more than that, and more farm-based.

The Georgia Farm Bureau, of which Trenton’s is a branch or chapter, is a grassroots membership association formed in 1939 for the general benefit of farms, farm products and farm families. It promotes farm products, encourages agricultural research, advocates for the farming sector legislatively and in general works at “to provide farm families a fair and equitable standard of living and to ensure the existence of agriculture as a vital and thriving industry,” to quote its website. Anyone can join for $25. For more information call the local office at (706) 657-7515.


Here Shannon Blom distributes free samples of organic beef jerky and non-GMO popcorn at her booth extension of Uncle Lar’s Outpost. (The name is spelled and punctuated correctly; Ms. Blom is married to a man named Larry.) Uncle Lar’s recently moved from a stall at Peddlers’ on Main Street to a store of its own on Highway 136 West.

Ms. Blom invites all to drop in sometime for her extensive range of healthy food options, call for more info at (423) 682-1363, or visit her website, unclelarsoutpost.com. (And if you do pop by, tell her The Planet says thanks for all the popcorn.)


Cheri Miller (right) shows off her handcrafted woolen items, which she sells at the Main Street and Signal Mountain farmers markets in Chattanooga as well as the Wednesday market in Mentone, Ala. Ms. Miller runs a sheep farm on the Holder Loop in Rising Fawn, whence comes the wool, which she spins, knits and crochets herself. Lately she’s branched into custom men’s and ladies’ woolen socks, which she has manufactured from her wool at a renaissance sock manufacturing facility in Fort Payne, Ala. The socks sell for $27 a pair but they are seriously luxurious and would make excellent Christmas presents.


Liz Riddle informs a fairgoer about the quilting classes she now provides at The Lily Pad, situated in the old gas station-turned-garden-center at 12695 North Main Street, in Trenton just north of the square. (You can’t miss it—Ms. Riddle’s floral displays are so eye-catching they’re an impediment to traffic.) In back is an extensive display of the quilts of Dade’s favorite retired public health nurse, Verenice Hawkins.


State organizations with local offices were also represented at the Ag Fair. At left is “Little” Ted Rumley II of the Georgia Forestry Commission with his big honkin’ fire 'dozer. The ranger says he brings the mammoth machine to demos like this not just because people, well, enjoy looking at it but because it can be used to show how the GFC fights fires--not by dowsing them with water but by depriving them of their natural fuel.


At right is Stephanie Fisher, interpretive ranger at Cloudland Canyon State Park. She was at the fair to let the public know about all the fall fun the park offers, almost all of it for free with the yearly or $5 daily park pass. (And on top of that, entrance is free at all Georgia parks next weekend for Your State Parks Day on Sept. 30. Hayrides ($6 and $3 for adults and children, respectively, start this weekend, and the park also offers fishing and any number of free hikes. Check the park’s event calendar at http://explore.gastateparks.org/events?p=38. Many events are also listed on The Planet’s homepage Upcoming Events column.


No ag fair would be complete without farm animals and the festival had plenty of those. Ducks, rabbits and goats were furnished by the Nakhleh farm in Rising Fawn, courtesy of Dade Middle School science teacher Fancher Nakhleh. Here Basil Nakhleh is shown with goat Napoleon. Napoleon got loose in Ms. Nakhleh’s classroom prior to the Ag Fair and caused consternation, entertainment and an excellent source of student excuses—a goat can eat some serious homework.


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