Mixed in among syrup sopping and soap making, crafts and music at Loachapoka’s Pioneer Day is a booth by the 4-H History Seekers.

This 4-H group is dedicated to learning the history behind what they do and participates in Pioneer Day each year by selling sweet potatoes.

These sweet potatoes are grown by the group, tended for and sold in order to help others.

Pioneer Day

Pioneer Day will be Saturday at 6500 Stage Road in Loachapoka and will start at 7 a.m., finishing up for the day at 4 p.m.

This all-day event is based around history, with time period-related clothing and activities.

Different booths and vendors will have crafts, baked goods or home items for sale while other events are taking place.

There will be the famous “syrup sopping,” candle making, weaving and more. The event also will feature live music.

The 4-H History Seekers, which is sponsored by the Lee County Historical Society, is a part of the event every year by selling sweet potatoes that they students grew themselves.

The sweet potato project began as a way to aide the Community Market.

Community Market

The Food Bank of East Alabama runs the Community Market as a way to help community members who are food insecure.

“How they describe it to us, is it’s just a way to help people get back on their feet,” said sophomore Clara Ragan, one of the members of the 4-H History Seekers.

Once the Community Market receives proof of need, shoppers are able to pick out their groceries, just like a grocery store. The difference is that they don’t receive a prepacked bundle of food like some other food bank initiatives.

“It just makes them feel less dependent, because it just is like you are shopping at a regular grocery store,” Ragan said.

The 4-H History Seekers donate all their money from sweet potato sales at Pioneer Day to the community market. So far the total equals close to $7,400, Ragan said.

“I just love going and helping and presenting (the Community Market)with that check and helping out at the community market that day,” she said. “That’s always been the most fun for me.”

In the past the group decided to donate the potatoes to the Community Market before realizing that the market could do more with the profits.

“I would like to think our sweet potato project brings visibility to the community market and what a fabulous organization it is to help those people in our county who are nutritionally insecure,” said Betsy Jordan, an adult advisor for the 4-H History Seekers.

The potatoes

The potatoes are planted in May and harvested in October, so Pioneer Day is the perfect time to dig them up.

These potatoes are taken right from the ground and sold to customers, so they are fresh. Ragan reminded buyers that if they buy the potatoes at Pioneer Day, they will need to let them cure for a couple of weeks.

For more-eager eaters, however, there will be potatoes from Mississippi available that can be eaten immediately, she said.

Another fun aspect that ties into Pioneer Day is that children, or adults, can dig their own potatoes out of the ground if they want, she said. The booth is right next to where the potatoes are grown.

“It’s just always a really fun time getting to promote our club, getting to promote what we do through the Community Market,” Ragan said. “It’s a lot of work, but its definitely rewarding.”

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