11/17/2012 7:00 AM
By Sue Bowman Southeastern Pa. Correspondent
LEBANON, Pa. — Farm-City activities are the place where producers from the farms and consumers from the city cross paths to better appreciate each other’s roles.
Throw into the mix the agribusiness people who supply the farmers and relay products to the consumers, and you have the makings of an celebration like Lebanon County’s annual Farm-City Banquet, which attracted 315 attendees this year.
The Nov. 8 banquet at Midway Church of the Brethren in suburban Lebanon marked the culmination of a series of recent Farm-City events sponsored by the Lebanon Valley Chamber of Commerce.
This marked the 32nd year that the chamber has sponsored the annual coming together of the agriculture and business communities to foster the mutually beneficial relationship they share.
Other related events earlier in fall included a farm tour for fifth graders from Lebanon’s Southeast Elementary School and an Open Farm Tour for the general public, both at the South Annville Township dairy farm of Kraig and Meranda Sellers.
“Farming brings a huge positive effect to our community,” said Randall Ebersole, board chairman for the Lebanon Valley Chamber of Commerce.
Bonnie Wenger, chairwoman of the Farm-City Committee, presented Century Farm and Century Business awards.
Dale and Denise Snyder accepted the Century Farm award for their 88-acre South Lebanon Township crop farm, which has been in the Snyder/Schneider family since an 18th-century land grant from William Penn.
Plasterer Equipment Co. of Midway took home the Century Business award, marking its 1912 founding as a dealer in Cleveland and Waterloo Boy tractors. The business became a John Deere dealer in 1918 and has remained one to date. The company is now owned by the Leon Houser family.
A new feature at the banquet was the first-time presentation of a $500 scholarship to a young person pursuing an education in an agricultural related field. Terry and Susan Fisher accepted the scholarship on behalf of their daughter, Tara, who is an animal science major at the University of Vermont.
Always a highlight of Farm-City activities, this year’s job exchange featured custom farmer John Harrell from South Annville Township and Lebanon County Commissioner Bob Phillips showing each other a day at their respective jobs.
A new feature at the banquet was a humorous video filmed and narrated by Ebersole, which documented Harrell’s visit to county-owned facilities, such as the Lebanon County Correctional Facility, as well as Phillip’s trip to the Harrell farm on the day it received a large shipment of feeder pigs to finish.
Phillips also got his wish for a combine ride.
Although Harrell and Phillips obviously enjoyed exchanging jobs for a day, both agreed they wouldn’t want to switch careers on a permanent basis.
Phillips, who told the crowd that the job exchange made him “appreciate what we do every day and how our careers impact the county,” summarized his feelings by singing his own version of Frank Sinatra’s, “That’s Life,” using revamped lyrics that highlighted his experience on the farm.
The evening’s keynote speaker was Andy Vance, who has worked for the Agri Broadcast Network and is an active member of the National Association of Farm Broadcasting. He has been a blogger at Beef Producer.com and is currently staff editor for Feedstuffs, a weekly agribusiness newspaper.
Vance, who grew up on a small Ohio beef farm, spoke about the worrisome “fiscal cliff” that looms at the start of 2013 if Congress fails to take decisive action before then.
“Agriculture has always been a bipartisan sport,” Vance said. “I still believe in the future of agriculture.”
Vance emphasized the need to get more young people involved in agriculture and added that there should be a goal to “make Farm-City Week 52 weeks of the year.”
Lebanon County Conservation District Manager Chuck Wertz presented the district’s 19th annual conservation awards.
Nature artist and nature program presenter Tom Powers was honored with the “Special Award for Conservation.” The supervisors, Environmental Advisory Committee and the residents of South Londonderry Township were honored with the “Special Award for Conservation” for their efforts to address more sustainable approaches to community growth.
Richard Moore, secondary agricultural program instructor for more than 42 years and adviser to the Cedar Crest Young Farmers for 38 years, was named Conservation Educator of the Year.
The Conservation Landowner of the Year award went to Mervin and Louise Horst and family for their Millcreek Township dairy operation’s successful use of conservation techniques.
Lebanon County Commissioner Jo Ellen Litz received the Conservationist of the Year award for her previous 16 years of service on the board of the Lebanon County Conservation District, as well as her dedication to water quality as a leader in the Swatara Watershed Association.
The evening culminated with two auctions by auctioneer Jim McClellan. Sold first was a woolen shawl that had been crafted on site during the banquet by the Lebanon Valley Woolseys sheep-to-shawl team using local wool from Heidelberg Township Jacob sheep and Shetland sheep from North Cornwall Township.
The gray and white shawl was sold and donated back twice before being purchased by Leon Houser and presented to Donna Eberly-Lehman, the Chamber of Commerce staffer who has organized Farm-City activities for all 32 years and who will be retiring at the end of the year.
The sale brought in $1,975, which was donated to Team Landon for Landon Kreider’s medical expenses. An Amish scooter donated by Ebersole Honda-Buick-GMC was also sold twice and raised an additional $300 for Team Landon.