Lawrence County’s 25-year-tradition, known as Pizza Farm, coordinated by the Lawrence County Extension Office and the Moulton Lions Club, was spotlighted in a public service announcement by the University of North Alabama last week.
On Thursday, Nov. 7, and Friday, Nov. 8, third-graders from each of the county’s six elementary schools visited the Lions Club Fairgrounds in Moulton to learn about the ingredients in pizza, County Extension Coordinator Donna Shanklin said.
The students may have been surprised to learn that many of the pizza ingredients could have been grown or produced in Lawrence County, she said.
Pizza Farm was started over 20 years ago by retired Extension Coordinator Linda Robinson, Shanklin said. This year’s event became even more special when UNA students dropped by to learn more about the educational experience and film portions of the event for their PSA on Lions Hometown Heroes.
“It is especially exciting today because Moulton’s Lion Club has been selected as one out of five other clubs in Alabama to be highlighted as Lions Home Town Heroes,” Moulton Lions President Jerome Thompson said.
He said UNA’s 90-second PSA’s are announced on social media to enhance the presence of Lions Clubs across the state and attract new members.
“Helen Keller once said, ‘Alone we can do so little. Together we can do so much.’ The Moulton Lions Club is proud to partner with the Extension Service and local community members to bring this event to Lawrence County,” Thompson said. “Together, we impacted about 450 third-graders whose experiences here taught them all about the food process from farm to table.”
Pizza Farm consisted of eight sessions on a variety of topics, Shanklin said.
Alabama Cattlemen’s Association Member Bill Rutherford brought his bull, Cruz, to demonstrate that the beef found on a pizza may have come from beef cattle produced locally, said Shanklin.
“He also talked about chicken and pigs and their part in the pizza. Authentic pepperoni comes from pigs and beef, but today some pepperoni may have turkey in it,” she said. “Jessica Williams, Urban Youth Development Agent, discovered in a cheese production session that most third-graders like mozzarella cheese, but that cheddar is a close second.”
Juanita Baggett, a retired 4-H Program Assistant, discussed dairy products and conducted a poultry and dairy relay race to teach students about milking cows and collecting eggs.
A bee session allowed students to taste locally produced honey under the direction of members of the Tennessee Valley Beekeepers Association, and Soil Conservation Service’s Kathy Gotcher taught participants that there is a state soil known as “Bama,” and it is found in Lawrence County.
Shanklin said Gotcher also taught students that without good soil, a farmer could not produce and raise the food that we enjoy.
“Other sessions were led by Extension Faculty Kenneth Gamble, Marsha Terry, Taylor Redder, and Michelle Hamilton,” Shanklin said. “They both conducted a Jeopardy-type game with youth. Topics included Fruit, Vegetables, and Wildlife. Woodruff Farms and Allen Pickens provided the fun part of the Pizza Farm day with a petting zoo and a hayride.”
At the end of the eight sessions, students were treated to ice cream, milk, and of course, a slice of pizza.
Students reviewed the ingredients found in pizza and where they come from—dough from wheat, tomato sauce from tomatoes, milk & cheese from regional dairies, toppings such as pepperoni from the pigs and chickens, hamburger topping from beef cattle, and even the paper box comes from pulpwood from pine trees grown in the region.
“Youth needs to know where their food comes from,” Shanklin said. “Pizza Farm provides them a small glimpse into food production so that when they go to the grocery store, they know where their food comes from and that maybe some of it might have been grown or raised by a neighbor.”
Pizza Farm was made possible by the Lawrence County Extension Office, Moulton Lions Club, and through many donations and volunteers from local businesses and farms.