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Good News from NCAT's Gulf States Region!

sunrise over demonstration farm
How have you been beating the summer heat? We’ve been getting to work early at the NCAT Demonstration Farm, and are rewarded with beautiful sunrises. Read on to see what else the NCAT Gulf States Region team has been up to this summer!

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Bringing the Gulf States to Washington, D.C.

Rock in D.C.

Pictured (from left):
John Coleman, Farmer from Mound Bayou, MS
Rockiell Woods, Gulf States Regional Director at NCAT
Juli Obudzinski, Deputy Policy Director at NSAC

A group of farmers and educators, including NCAT’s own Gulf States Regional Director Rockiell Woods, traveled to Washington, D.C., in June to speak on behalf of the USDA’s 2501 Program. The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) provided the opportunity for NCAT to participate in this trip to share success stories with decision-makers in D.C., with the hope of encouraging them to continue this program in the future.

The 2501 Program, the full title of which is the “Outreach and Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged and Veteran Farmers and Ranchers” program, has given organizations such as NCAT the opportunity to reach farmers like John Coleman, who traveled to D.C. with Rockiell to tell his story. Because of the 2501 program, Rockiell was able to teach John about different USDA programs, helping John retain ownership of his farm after his father passed away. This is just one example of the impact this program can have. Many minority farmers and ranchers have been historically underserved by USDA programs, and the 2501 program provides organizations with the means to reach out to these socially disadvantaged populations.

The 2501 program is currently funded at $10 million a year through 2017, and the goal of the visitors to D.C. was to encourage their legislators to increase this funding to $20 million a year starting in 2018. Being able to show real, tangible benefits to these lawmakers helps make sure they know how important the 2501 program is to the farm families of the Gulf States Region.

Cooking Class with Mississippi Food Justice Collaborative Partners

cooking class Choctaw

Too many cooks in the kitchen? Never! The Gulf States NCAT crew and Mississippi Food Justice Collaborative members at a cooking class with Choctaw Fresh Produce.

Gulf States Agriculture Specialist Felicia Bell stepped out of the field and into the kitchen on August 12 to teach a class on healthy cooking. Her students were farmers from the Mileston Cooperative as well as local families, who joined Felicia to learn some cooking techniques to prepare fresh, simple, healthy meals. This event, arranged by Calvin Head, director of the Cooperative, was a direct result of the partnerships formed by the Mississippi Food Justice Collaborative. Calvin was inspired by a cooking class that was held at a Food Justice Collaborative Meeting in July, conducted by Choctaw Fresh Produce, and he wanted to host his own class for Mileston farmers and the community. This kind of idea-sharing and support between partners was one of the goals of the Food Justice Collaborative, and it is wonderful to see it in action!

Felicia showed the attendees the basics of how to prepare the different ingredients, and then let them do the cooking. They made a chicken breast and vegetable stir-fry, brown rice, sautéed kale, spicy cucumber salad, and fruit salad. Everything was made from fresh ingredients, seasoned with herbs and using vegetables that the cooperative farmers grew themselves. Felicia talked about the health benefits of cooking with fresh, unprocessed ingredients, and showed the group how it can be an affordable way to prepare meals in addition to being delicious and healthy.

This event was especially beneficial for the farmers who attended, many of whom had never eaten the vegetables they grow for the cooperative. The class also included children of all ages, so it was truly a community event. Felicia enjoyed cooking with these families and farmers, and the participants gave positive feedback, already asking for more trainings! Until more classes can be arranged, Felicia recommends this website as a source for good, healthy recipes, from one of NCAT’s partners, Tulane University, which has a Teaching Kitchen as part of their medical school.

LaShayda NCAT intern

Have you met our new Farm Intern Lashayda?

Lashayda is a senior at Tougaloo College in Jackson, where she is studying political science and finishing up her bachelor's degree this summer. She grew up working on her grandparents' farm in Collins, MS, and was a member of Future Farmers of America in high school. Through an internship at NCAT, she is gaining some hands-on experience and learning more about sustainable agriculture, landscaping, and how she can help advocate for policies that support local Mississippi farmers. She will be working with us through September! Read more about Lashayda’s contributions and experiences as an NCAT intern here.

The Heat is on at the Demonstration Farm

demonstration farm produce, peppers

Demonstration Farm Manager Sam Humphrey has had a productive summer so far. While he prepares the larger field for planting, he has been using the hoop house (also called a high tunnel) to grow peppers and tomatoes. He has had quite a harvest! The pepper varieties include jalapenos, green habaneros, banana peppers, and green bell peppers, and Sam has harvested 164 lbs. of peppers already with more to come. He’s also harvested 156 lbs. of tomatoes. That’s a lot of produce from the 6 beds in the 30’ x 70’ hoop house!

While Sam manages the current crop, he is already planning for the fall. The hoop house will soon be growing spinach, cilantro, and pac choi as the weather starts to cool off. He is also starting seedlings that will be the first crops planted in the large outdoor field, including beets, cabbages, cauliflower, collards, and several other vegetables.

Upcoming Event

Join several of our Gulf States staff at the Mississippi Farm to Cafeteria Conference, October 12th, Jackson State University E-Center, 1230 Raymond Road, Jackson MS, 39204. For more information, contact, call (636) 675-0503, or visit

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Copyright © Fall 2017
The National Center for Appropriate Technology

NCAT Gulf States mailing address:
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