Category Archives: Events

Upcoming Events, Training, and Funding Opportunities

Alliance Field Day
June 16, 2017, 10:00 A.M.-2:30 P.M.
Topics: Alcorn’s Demonstration Farm: Featuring Turmeric, Blueberries and Muscadines.
Alcorn State University
Lorman, MS
MSU Coastal Floral Design Classes
Beginning July 11, 2017; Continues Throughout Summer and Fall.
MSU Coastal R&E Center
Biloxi, MS
MSU-Sunflower Seminar
August 15, 2017, 10:30 A.M.-2:30 P.M.
Growing and Arranging the Coast’s Favorite Flower
MSU Extension-Hancock County
Bay St. Louis, MS
Grant Opportunities & Other Important Information
Livestock Brand Renewal Notice
All livestock brands which are registered within the state must be re-registered by June 30th, 2017, in order to be a valid brand. The Mississippi Agriculture and Livestock Theft Bureau of the Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce mailed brand renewal notices in April 2017. Anyone who has not received a Livestock Brand renewal notice should call Jessica Spears, the State Brands Registrar, at 601-359-1159 or 1-800-678-2660. The registration fee for a five year period is $5.00.

Anyone interested in obtaining a NEW livestock brand should go online to www.mdac.ms.gov, select the Brand Registrar tab and print a copy of the brand registration and follow the directions on the form or call the Brand Registrar. Anyone wishing to transfer their brand, should mail a letter to the Brand Registrar requesting that transfer.

 
Preparing for a Food Safety Audit Video
The Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce is proud to release this informational video for farmers that may be required to obtain a food safety audit such as GAP/GHP or comply with the new Food Safety Modernization Act-Produce Safety Rule (FSMA-PSR).  If you are interested in obtaining a copy of the DVD, please call or email at 601-359-1196 or susan@mdac.ms.gov.
2017 Mississippi Certified Farmers Market Specialty Crop Grant
The Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce (MDAC) is accepting grant proposals for Certified Farmers Markets across the state who are interested in promoting Mississippi-grown specialty crops. The goal of this grant program is to increase awareness and availability of Mississippi-grown specialty crops sold at Certified Farmers Markets. Specialty crops are defined by law as “fruits and vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, and horticulture and nursery crops, including floriculture.” Certified Farmers Markets can apply for up to $1,000 to promote specialty crops sold at their respective farmers market.

Deadline to Apply: June 1, 2017 
Growing Lunch School Garden Grant
Growing Lunch is a school garden grant program administered through the Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce with the USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant Program.  Growing Lunch seeks to enhance Farm to School efforts across the state. It acts as an educational tool to enhance the knowledge of daycare and school-aged children on agriculture, healthy eating and how food arrives on their plate three times a day. All schools, K-12, and daycares/pre-schools in the State of Mississippi are eligible to apply.  Schools that already have a school garden may apply to further their production.  It is encouraged that schools applying have local support, for example, a local extension office or Master Gardeners. This program is on a first come, first serve basis.  Only one grant can be awarded per school.  Schools must fill out the application and have a dedicated coordinator. Pre-schools must be registered/licensed by the Mississippi Department of Health. Schools that have received a Growing Lunch grant from MDAC in the past are not eligible to apply for more funds at this time.
GAP/GHP Cost-Share Program
The Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce is currently offering a cost-share program to provide financial assistance to Mississippi fruit and vegetable farmers receiving Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) and Good Handling Practices (GHP) Certification.  Eligible farmers will receive reimbursement for 75% of the certification costs up to a maximum of $500.

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Next MS Food Policy Council Meeting Coming April 7!

The MS Food Policy Council is your way to stay informed about local food issues in Mississippi!     
 
Next Quarterly Meeting will be held Friday, April 7th at the MSU CAVS Center from 11am-2pm.  
Don’t miss this opportunity to learn more about three important topics:
 
Senator Angela Hill will update the group on current local food legislation;
 
Dr. James Barnes, MS State Extension Service, will present details about their new Food Hub initiative;
 
Dr. Quinton Dickerson, St. Dominic Hospital, will discuss the connection between food and health in their Ornish Reversal Program.
 
Please send your RSVP for lunch to jwbelue1@gmail.com by Monday, April 3rd.
 
The CAVS Center is located at 153 Mississippi Parkway, Canton MS  39046.

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Field Day Sponsored by Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture

A Seed Starting Demonstration; Preparing for Spring Planting; and Featuring the Farm’s 7 High Tunnels, Greenhouse, and Field Production

ALLIANCE FIELD DAY: FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 17, 2017

(HOSTED BY THE MISSISSIPPI BAND OF CHOCTAW INDIANS)

 

We can do something special, if we work together!  The Alliance, partners and local farmers have shown that willingness to work together.  The first, and most important priority, was to make a real investment in the skill and knowledge development of farmers and aspiring farmers.  To date, 51 field days have been conducted since we started in 2012.  Field days are now being hosted by local farms, located throughout the state.  Thanks to all of you, these on-farm hands-on learning opportunities have been a success.  Together we can leverage the work of these local farms and local farmer networks, forming through these field days, to champion a revival of family farms.

 

With your continued support and involvement, 2017 will be AWESOME!  We are pleased to have so many new host sites – local farms, Mississippi State University and Alcorn State University Research and Demonstration Farms, and Mississippi Department of Education’s Vocational and Technical Centers.  This year we hope to conduct 12 monthly field days and 4 Follow-on Workshops/Field Days.  These quarterly Follow-on Workshops/Field Days are designed to help farmers adopt critical agricultural practices and appropriate technologies that are essential to growing their operations and accessing larger and larger markets.  As an example, during one of the quarterly Follow-on Workshops/Field Days on irrigation and water management participants will not only find out about the latest irrigation technology, but also learn how to install and operate an irrigation system for a small farming operation.  Anyone interested in hosting a field day/training or getting more information should send an email to keithmdp@yahoo.com, ASAP!

 

TOUR AND LEARN FROM SUSTAINABLE FARMING OPERATIONS!  WORK WITH AND SUPPORT LOCAL FARMERS AND GROWERS!

Y0U CAN HELP BY:

  • PARTICIPATING IN THESE EVENTS
  • HOSTING A FIELD DAY/TRAINING SESSION
  • BECOMING A SPEAKER/PRESENTER
  • BECOMING A PARTNER/SPONSOR
  • MAKING A DONATION

 

LAST FIELD DAY (FRIDAY, JANUARY 20, 2017)

Special thanks to Ole Brook Organics for hosting this event.  Topics included: “Preparing for Spring Planting and High Tunnels; Nutritional Value of Specialty Crops: Turmeric, Blueberries, and Muscadine; and Featuring the Farm’s Turmeric and Ginger”.  Experts/presenters included: Dr. Girish K. Panicker, Associate Professor and Director of the Center for Conservation Research with Alcorn State University (ASU); and Dr. William B. Evans, Associate Research Professor, Truck Crops Experiment Station with Mississippi State University (MSU); and Al Buie, farm owner.

 

I had to miss this one because I’m recovering from surgery, but everyone is saying the field day was great.  Participants came from all around the state and really enjoyed the experience.  Many participants stayed long after the program ended.  Robbie Pollard with the Happy Foods Project, did a great job kicking off the program.  Local NRCS staff provided information and discussed their programs with field day participants.  Dr. Panicker from ASU, Dr. Evans from MSU, and Al Buie did a great job.  Al Buie provided a nice review of the farm’s history and vision.  Participants gave very high marks during the taste testing of his new line of organic ginger tea.  Participants also got dirty harvesting in the high tunnel and all took home turmeric rhizomes, ginger, melon and gourd seeds.

 

NEXT FIELD DAY (FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 17, 2017)

WE ARE PLEASED THAT THE FEBRUARY 17TH FIELD DAY WILL BE HOSTED BY THE MISSISSIPPI BAND OF CHOCTAW INDIANS.  The Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians operates five farms, 18 high tunnels and one greenhouse that are utilized for wholesale and CSA shares. Two of their farms are the ONLY tribally-owned certified organic produce operations in the nation.  The three other farms will become certified organic this year.  This event will be held at their Farm I, between Carthage and Kosciusko.  Farm I is one of their USDA Certified Organic farms and consists of seven high tunnels, one greenhouse for plug production, and one acre of field production.  High tunnel and field crops include tomatoes, tomatoberrys, cucumbers, eggplant, kale, and collards.  YOU DON’T WANT TO MISS THIS ONE!

 

Topics will include: “A Seed Starting Demonstration; Preparing for Spring Planting; and Featuring the Farm’s High Tunnels, Greenhouse, and Field Production”.  Experts from Mississippi State University Extension Service, Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station, Alcorn State University Extension Program, and experienced farmers will participate and help to provide greater support to local farmers and growers.

 

REGISTRATION: 10:00AM.  PROGRAM: 10:30AM TO 2:30PM

 

There is NO COST to attend this event, but PRE-REGISTRATION is required!

TO REGISTER SEND EMAIL TO: keithmdp@yahoo.com

 

Help us get the word out!  Post the attached flyer.  Send out an email broadcast or communication to your members, colleagues, and others.

 

Remember these events are hands-on on-farm learning opportunities, so always wear comfortable shoes and clothing!

 

DIRECTIONS TO MISSISSIPPI BAND OF CHOCTAW INDIANS – FARM I

Farm I is located at 7810 County Line Road, Carthage, Mississippi, between Carthage and Kosciusko.  From North: Take Hwy 35 South from Kosciusko to Dossville (5-6 miles).  Take a left onto County Line Road, just past Dossville sign.  Turn right into first gravel drive about 1/4 mile off of Hwy 35.  From South: Take Hwy 35 North from Carthage to Dossville (12-14 miles).  Take a right onto County Line Road, just past Dossville sign.  Turn right into first gravel drive about 1/4 mile off of Hwy 35.  Contact: Daphne Snow, General Manager of Choctaw Fresh Produce 601-575-9089 for help with directions.  TO REGISTER EMAIL: keithmdp@yahoo.com(Pre-registration is required) 

 

HIGHLY PROFITABLE AND SUSTAINABLE: ON 1-ACRE **)

We MUST do more to support local farmers and growers, especially small farmers.  Toward that end, we introduced a new plan showing how to become highly profitable and sustainable on a small family farm.  The plan highlights some basic agricultural principles/practices; practical budget/financial options; and realistic revenue projections.  YES, YOU CAN HAVE A GOOD QUALITY OF LIFE ON 1-ACRE OF LAND, WHILE BEING SUSTAINABLE!  The plan is attached.  Let us know if you would like someone to speak to your group or if you would like to demonstrate these practices on your farm.

 

RESOURCES, VENDORS AND SUPPLIERS (UPDATED **)

Farmers and growers need more practical information, in addition to that shared at our monthly field days.  So, we highly recommend the resources, vendors, and suppliers listed in this attachment based on the quality of their products and services.  This list includes reliable sources for seeds, tools, supplies, equipment, programs, etc.  We also loan out some DVD’s and books (FREE).  TWO NEW COMPANIES HAVE BEEN ADDED TO THE LIST!

 

 

“Being sustainable, as farmers and in life, means we’re environmentally sound, financially viable, and socially responsible.  If we are destroying the environment, can’t make any money, or don’t care about the world around us – we can never be truly sustainable”.

 

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Visioning of US Ag Systems Listening Session Announcement

DATE:               January 25, 2017

 SUBJECT:        USDA Announces Visioning of U. S. Agriculture Systems for Sustainable Production Listening Session on Thursday, March 2, 2017 will begin at 8:30 a.m. and is scheduled to end by 5:00 p.m.

The U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced a Visioning of U. S. Agriculture Systems for Sustainable Production Stakeholder Listening Session. This stakeholder listening session is for those interested in the long-term healthy and viability of U. S. agriculture and for concurrently improving the economic, environmental, security, and health benefits to the United States through agriculture over the next fifty (50) years. The announcement appeared in the Federal Register (82 FR 8174, January 24, 2017).

The text of the USDA notice can be found at the following link:

https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2017/01/24/2017-01506/visioning-of-united-states-us-agricultural-systems-for-sustainable-production-stakeholder-listening

Registration to attend the stakeholder listening session in person must be submitted by FEBRUARY 27, 2017 and written comments must be submitted by MARCH 9, 2017. All questions about this listening session should be directed to the point of contact listed in the USDA announcement.

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Save the Date! January 13, 2017

Please join the Mississippi Food Policy Council for our first quarterly meeting of 2017!

Date:  January 13, 2017

Location:  Mississippi State University, Bost Auditorium

Time:  11:00 a.m.

Special Speaker, Dr. Samina Raja, will present “Building Food Systems from the Ground Up.”

Lunch will be provided.  Please RSVP to Judy Belue at jwbelue1@gmail.com

samina_raja_flyer

 

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Mark Your Calendar! 2017 North Mississippi Fruit & Vegetable Growers Conference — The VeggieDr Blog

via Mark Your Calendar! 2017 North Mississippi Fruit & Vegetable Growers Conference — The VeggieDr Blog

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October is Farm to School Month!

via FoodTank (http://foodtank.com/news/2016/10/celebrate-national-farm-to-school-month-this-october)

October is National Farm to School Month and communities across the country are celebrating the importance of farm to school programs. These programs, implemented in more than 42,500 schools in the United States, can help improve child nutrition, stimulate local economies, and educate children about where their food comes from and how to make informed food choices.

This year’s theme, One Small Step highlights the simple ways that, students, parents, teachers, nutrition professionals, food producers, and activists can make a difference by learning more about farm field trips, cooking lessons, and taste testing. The National Farm to School Network provides several resources including a toolkit on how to start and develop local farm to school programs, tips on how to ensure the sustainability of a school garden, and an overview of current and pending farm to school-related state and national policies. In addition, National Farm to School Month will highlight the different aspects of farm to school programs by focusing on a new theme every week: education, healthy school meals, farmers and producers, and the next generation.

Farm to school programs have engaged over 23.6 million students and have been shown to provide a multitude of benefits. According to the National Farm to School Network, students in farm to school programs demonstrate increased fruit and vegetable consumption, are more willing to try new foods, and exhibit improved academic outcomes. Christina Plyman, a student volunteer at Boyle County High School’s school garden in Kentucky, says“I’ve seen kids in the cafeteria eat healthier foods because their friends grew it, and they know the garden it was grown in.” Boyle County High School student garden volunteer, Trinity Sinkhorn, also praises the program, explaining “I’m taking on new leadership in our farm to school program and I’m interested in learning new approaches and finding ways to grow our activities.”

In addition to providing learning and leadership opportunities to students, farm to school programs benefit schools and the community. According to areport by UC Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program, participating schools have reported an average increase of 9 percent in school meal participation and have increased local procurement of foods, with some schools sourcing up to 50 percent of their total purchases locally. Meanwhile, local farmers have experienced average income rises and increased market diversification. Upstream Public Health, a public health-focused nonprofit, found that for every US$1 spent on farm to school, US$2.16 is generated in economic activity benefiting the local community.

Farm to school programs may differ from school to school, but all enrich our local communities by changing food purchasing, education, and eating practices at schools and other education sites. Matthew Raiford, Executive Chef of The Farmer & The Larder in Brunswick, Georgia and a sixth generation farmer, addressed the importance of a collective effort to create strong and just local food systems at the 8th National Farm to Cafeteria Conference in June 2016. According to Raiford, “It takes more than a village. It takes villages to build better systems.” Food Tank invites you to join us and the many schools, farms, communities, and organizations around the country in celebrating National Farm to School Month this October.

Food Tank highlights a few outstanding farm to school programs happening around the country. Look who made the list!

 

Good Food for Oxford Schools, Mississippi: Good Food for Oxford Schools, an initiative of the Oxford School District in Oxford, Mississippi, aims to improve school meal offerings and provide nutrition education to students and their families. The program has increased the amount of local fruits and vegetables in school cafeterias and implemented nutrition education lessons in the classroom, emphasizing the importance of a healthy, nutritious diet. Outside of the classroom, Good Food for Oxford Schools offers cooking classes and educational grocery shopping trips for families.

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