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Lessons learned during Farm-City exchange

November 24, 2004|by BONNIE H. BRECHBILL

bonnieb@herald-mail.com

KAUFFMAN STATION, Pa. - Three Franklin County residents with farm-related jobs spent half a day working with three residents in urban jobs recently. The farmer then hosted the urban worker, as part of the annual Farm-City Week job exchange.

Farm-City Week was started in 1955, according to Julia Meyers, mistress of ceremonies at the 35th annual Franklin County Farm-City Week Banquet held Tuesday night at the Kauffman Community Center, to bridge the communication gap between urban and rural neighbors.

"They take a firsthand look at each others' lives with the job exchanges," she said.

Job exchange participant Dave Somerville of Precast Systems said he is a fisherman, and he gained a great appreciation for the job of his exchange partner, Darrell Veilleux, chairman of the trout committee at the Chambersburg Rod and Gun Club.

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Somerville helped to clean the leaves out of the trout hatchery, and to feed the 20,000 fish.

"If you catch a trout that is over 12 inches long, you can thank Darrell and his group," Somerville said.

Veilleux went to work with Somerville at the Precast plant near Williamson, Pa., to see how prefab foundations are made. He helped to rake concrete, and said it was fascinating to see how wood and insulation are incorporated into the concrete.

Christmas tree grower Gary Heckman of Heckman's Tree Farm, and Stan Rock, customer service supervisor at the Chambersburg Post Office, worked with each other. Heckman noted some similarities between his job and Rock's.

"We have the same busy season," he said. "And there are certain things that have to happen at the proper time and in the proper sequence, we need to be flexible and well-organized, and we are both striving for customer satisfaction."

Rock said he was impressed with how committed Heckman is to the environment, and how difficult it must be to have to plant trees eight years before harvesting them.

"He has to decide how many and what kind of trees he's going to need in eight years," Rock said.

John Van Horn, executive director of Letterkenny Industrial Development Authority, visited one of the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau's Mobile Ag and Science Labs. Tonya Myers, coordinator of the program, visited Letterkenny Army Depot and saw how development there can help to preserve farmland in Franklin County. Myers, who grew up on a farm near the depot, said that the reuse of land, utilities and buildings in the depot can help to save county farmland that is currently being swallowed up at the rate of 35 acres per year.

Van Horn, a professional geologist, said the class he observed taught third- through seventh-graders about agriculture, conservation and the environment.

"Student attention and discipline were maintained," he said. "The teachers used logical, scientific systems, which students need to understand and use."

Secretary of Agriculture Dennis Wolff, a dairy farmer from Columbia County, told the 250 people in attendance that Pennsylvania leads the United States in the number of acres of farmland preserved. He said 2,500 farms in the state are in ag preservation.

"A limited number of farms in Pennsylvania have been in one family for 200 years," Wolff said in presenting the Bicentennial Farm distinction to Charles and Lois Horst of Chambersburg.

"There have been six generations on our farm, and we have all the deeds back to 1804," Lois Horst said.

Receiving Century Farm honors were Clyde and Mary Naomi Lehman of Chambersburg. The Lehmans were presented with a commodities basket by Wolff, as they were celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary.

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