Black Belt has many strong assets already

Published 10:43pm Thursday, March 28, 2013

When I woke up last Saturday morning, still hearing the sound of Elton John’s piano as he serenaded a packed audience at the Garret Coliseum in Montgomery the night before, I immediately jumped out of bed and put on my cowboy boots. Today is my 23rd birthday, I thought, and I will be spending it on a farm in Marion Junction surrounded by chickens, goats, cows and every other farm animal imaginable.

While I told my family and friends about my perculiar birthday plans, they couldn’t help but act confused. However, to me this was the perfect way to spend my birthday. After all, I spent the majority of my 22nd year enjoying similar adventures in Selma.

As I toured the Spencer Farm, owned my Chip and Laura Spencer, I couldn’t help but be romanticized by their simple, pure lifestyle. The Spencers produce all their own meat, vegetables, fruits and dairy. Their grocery list, Laura said, is much shorter than the average family of four. And while their homegrown lifestyle is definitely out of the norm, nothing about the Spencers seemed forced or artificial. They live the way they do simply because they believe it’s the right way.

While walking through chicken coops and petting baby goats, Chip explained to me that living in the Black Belt offers opportunities for farmers like himself that are not available elsewhere. Much of the land in Dallas County, he explained, is untouched. Pavement and shopping centers haven’t infiltrated Marion Junction like it has much of the state. And he believes it’s his and Laura’s duty to protect the Black Belt’s beautiful scenery and guard it from pollution and other harmful environmental factors.

This philosophy seemed so backwards from what I always here around town about bringing businesses to the area. Yes, I’m sure the Spencers encourage business and economical development just like any other Dallas County resident, but at the same time they’ve learned to appreciate the strong natural assets that this area already has.

We are blessed in the Black Belt to have rich soil and a favorable climate for farming. While attracting development to the downtown area is important, I think we should also recognize the advantages we already have and work to preserve it, much like the Spencers have.

While talking with Chip and Laura, I also learned how cost-efficient their organic lifestyle is. If more residents could mimic just a few of their frugal behaviors, I think Dallas County as a whole would be better off.

As for me, I couldn’t have had a better birthday and I look forward to the many more adventures I will have in Dallas County. Also, I may think twice before I buy my next Lean Cuisine at Winn-Dixie.


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