Gulf States Office Helps Veterans
Our Gulf States Regional Director Rockiell Woods and Specialist Felicia Bell hosted a week-long Armed to Farm training for veterans from Mississippi and the surrounding states. More than 30 men and women veterans of all branches of the military, and of diverse ages and backgrounds, attended the event. There was hands-on training at a variety of local farms and ranches, including Beaverdam Fresh Farms, Francis Flowers & Herb Farm, and Uncle Bubba's Farm, which gave participants the opportunity to build poultry tractors, build fence for swine, and assist with hoophouse construction. They also visited the Mississippi Modern Homestead Center, the Mississippi Meat Goat Producers Cooperative, and the Alliance for Sustainable Agricultural Production.
Staff provided classroom instruction that covered risk management, and business and financial planning. Rock reports that the training was very successful, and said, "In addition to the great instruction provided to the participants, it was a good networking opportunity for the veterans, allowing them to share experiences and ideas."
This training was made possible through special funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Growing Good Food Habits
The Gulf States office has added FoodCorps AmeriCorps to its Mississippi projects list. Specialist Felicia Bell is coordinating the project in Mississippi, and arranged pre-service orientation and training in September for the ten service members. The three-day training included classroom instruction and site visits with hands-on work.
The group met at Camp Lake Stephens in Oxford, MS, and enjoyed presentations from representatives of the Oxford School District and the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation. They had the opportunity to learn from local chef Corbin Evans and toured Richardson Vegetable Farm and Homestead Farms & Nursery.
The members spent a morning assisting Camp Lake Stephens staff in planting a fall garden, learning about basic place-based and culturally-appropriate gardening techniques and systems for planting, maintaining the plants, and harvesting produce.
This year's FoodCorps Fellow in Mississippi is Liz Broussard, who assisted Felicia with the training.
With training completed, the service members traveled to their host sites to begin their terms.
Contact Felicia Bell at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 479-575-1386 for more information or to help with FoodCorps efforts.
Sound and Sensible Organics
NCAT's Gulf States office, in partnership with Quality Certification Services (QCS) of Gainesville, Florida, is offering a series of workshops about organic certification for producers in the Gulf States region. These workshops are intended to enlist new farmers and ranchers in Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, Florida, and Georgia interested in the National Organic Program (NOP) and help them learn how to become NOP-certified.
The trainings will provide information and expertise to farmers interested in NOP and answer questions regarding organic farm practices and NOP certification.
According to Gulf States Regional Director Rockiell Woods, one goal of the workshops is to reach and educate new, beginning, minority, and historically underserved farmers to help them with organic and sustainable farming. "We also want to aid farmers in transitioning from conventional farm systems to certified organic and sustainable farming practices," said Woods.
The workshops will be offered in two parts, with the first workshop covering the basics of organic production and how to get certified organic. The second workshop series will be offered in the spring of 2015 and act as a follow-up for farmers who took part in the first series as well as any others interested in switching to certified organic production. The training team will help any of the workshop participants who want to set up a site inspection on their farms. There will be workshop days in each of the five states to answer questions participants may have, conduct mock inspections, and schedule organic certification inspections.
A complete workshop schedule will be available in the near future. Watch your email for further details, or visit www.ncat.org/gulf-states-regional-office/.
Intensive Grazing Pilot Project
Our Gulf States office received a grant from the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service — Grazing Land Conservation Initiative to conduct a pilot project on management intensive grazing (MiG) in Mississippi. Specialist Felicia Bell is working with a local producer to develop a demonstration farm showcasing MIG and other sustainable agriculture practices.
In a traditional grazing program, livestock are turned out on pastures and then removed when forage has been depleted. Uneven grazing, such as over-grazing of individual plants and under-grazing of other parts of a pasture can sometimes occur. This can result in a decrease in desirable grasses and an increase in weeds and other undesirable vegetation.
To avoid this, some landowners use a pasture rotation system with short grazing periods followed by intervals of rest for the pasture. This involves moving animals from one pasture to the next as forage is depleted. Management intensive grazing takes this concept even further using smaller pastures and moving animals to fresh pasture more often, perhaps even daily. This increases the harvest efficiency, improves soil health, and allows for better distribution of nutrients, among other positive effects.
With the project nearly complete, Felicia plans a public field day to showcase the changes the MiG project can bring to pasture. Watch this newsletter and the Gulf States Regional Office website — www.ncat.org/gulf-states-regional-office/ — for more information on the tour.
The Gulf States office is available to provide sustainable agriculture information and technical assistance across the five-state region: Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, Georgia and Florida. Call us for more information on how we can assist your organization, toll free:
Have a farm or ranch question?
Call ATTRA, the National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service toll-free at:
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Contact the Gulf States office at 510 Livingston Road, Suite 212
Jackson, MS 39202;
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