Farm City Week- Recognizing farmers since 1955

By Haley Mitchell Godwin

National Farm City Week, established in 1955 by Kiwanis International, provides an opportunity to celebrate local farmers and commemorate the significance of agriculture as the cornerstone of our national and state economies. This holds true even as urban areas expand and the landscape of agriculture evolves.

Farm City Week serves as an annual occasion for the Crenshaw County Kiwanis and the Crenshaw County Cooperative Extension Service to jointly acknowledge accomplishments in agriculture, scholastic endeavors, and community and economic development.

Amanda West Evans, the Crenshaw County Extension Agent, emphasized the profound impact of Farm City Week in promoting and preserving agriculture. 

“I do believe agriculture was/is somewhat diminishing in the county,” Evans said. “However, there are individuals recognizing its importance and value.”

Evans noted the transformative effects of external factors such as the COVID-19 pandemic, prompting a reevaluation of perspectives. Evans also shared a personal example, citing her father’s commitment to farming not solely for financial gain but out of love for the craft. This commitment is driven by a desire to pass down meaningful traditions to the next generation, instilling a strong work ethic and unique life lessons.

“My Daddy keeps farming not because we make a lot of money but because he loves it and wants to be able to pass something that is meaningful to him down to my brother and myself so we can pass down something meaningful to my brother and me, which we can then pass onto future generations,” Evans said. “Our family believes that farm life instills in our children a strong work ethic and imparts lessons unattainable elsewhere.”

The Farm City Program emerged during a challenging period for American farmers marked by a decline in net farm income and significant increases in farm costs, debts and property taxes. Recognizing the hardships faced by farmers and the negative public perception, Kiwanis led the initiative to improve the image of agriculture. 

In 1955, the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) joined Kiwanis in their mission and in October 1955 President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed Presidential Proclamation 3118 designating the period from Oct. 23 through Oct. 29, 1955, as the first official Farm-City Week.

National Farm-City Week is a comprehensive program involving producers, agricultural organizations, businesses, youth and civic clubs, extending beyond the month of November. Year-round Farm-City programs educate communities across the U.S. and Canada about the interconnectedness of agriculture and industry.

Despite industrial expansion in the area, agriculture remains the foremost sector in Crenshaw County, maintaining its significance even as the sector expands due to its proximity to key areas of population growth. 

Patsy Owens, secretary of the Crenshaw County Kiwanis Club, has contributed to Farm-City Week activities, such as the annual luncheon and kindergarten Farm Day, for over three decades. 

“We must remember that it is farmers who nourish America,” Owens emphasized. “Any effort to highlight their significance to our communities is a privilege.”