Mississippi Sustainable Agriculture Model Plan of Work is a culmination of the involvement of the State Sustainable Agriculture Committee. This committee is composed of representatives from both 1862 & 1890 Extension Organizations, Federal and State Government Agencies, NGOs, and farmers. A program assistant has been employed to assist the state coordinators and the members of this committee in carrying out the training objectives set forth in this model plan. The main objective of this plan is to include all of the various SARE programs into a seamless program. This plan will include more public awareness and either regional workshops or a state wide Sustainable Agriculture conference. Training goals will be reached by means of in-service education, conferences, workshops, demonstrations, field days, tours, and publications. The different media sources of the stakeholders will also be used to help reach the different focal groups set forth in this plan. Training materials developed by SARE will be incorporated into the training for extension and research staff. Attendance at National Conferences will be encouraged as a means of further professional development in sustainable Agriculture. Some training may be conducted jointly between both land grant universities in the state. Evaluation will be done using the logic model by the evaluation team that will be trained. All institutions and agencies involved are committed to this plan and have committed resources of time, money, and personnel to carry it out.
The main objective of the Model State Program is to incorporate all aspects of SARE into our State outreach program to expand knowledge and promote the adoption of sustainable agriculture practices to all farms and farmers regardless of size and type of production throughout Mississippi. The State Sustainable Agriculture committee, which has been functioning since 1995-96 revised its state strategic plan to reflect objectives of the Model State Program and implemented the plan through involvement of the State Sustainable Agriculture committee comprised of Alcorn State University and Mississippi State University extension personnel, NGO’s, NRCS, and other stakeholders. Efforts will be made to incorporate additional involvement in the Model State Program by contacting new organizations or individuals to enlist their support for sustainable agriculture programs in Mississippi. The Committee will evaluate the objectives of the Model State Program and prioritize the programs and training that meets the most crucial needs in our state. Efforts will be made by the committee to leverage other resources with our funds in order to most effectively meet these needs. To accomplish our mission our specific objectives are:
A) Strengthen links of communication among Mississippi Universities, State and Federal Agencies, NGO’s, Farmers, and Communities.
Currently, there are several groups and programs that provide education and promote adoption of Sustainable Agriculture practices in Mississippi however there hasn’t been a means to network these groups and activities. We plan to develop a Mississippi Sustainable Agriculture website to serve as a focal point of communications between the National, Regional, and within our State among the various Stakeholder Groups to provide education, research development and information transfer, to promote adoption of sustainable agriculture practices by farmers, and provide outreach into Mississippi Communities.
B) Seek to establish SARE as a familiar positive concept with farmers, NGO’s and general public.
Committee will seek to promote Sustainable Agriculture as a familiar positive concept with farmers, NGO’s and general public through use of distant education resources, printed materials and display SARE program information at educational programs throughout the state. Members will use their contacts with different media to reach different audiences. The committee will identify and facilitate distribution of resource materials for use by stakeholders and promote the use of educational resources that utilize all of Mississippi’s Agricultural systems from SARE, University Extension & Research, other state and federal agencies and farmers.
C) Increase efforts to get Extension Specialists, Field Agents and other Agency staff members to incorporate Sustainable Agriculture concepts in educational activities.
The committee will continue efforts to encourage Extension Specialists, Field Agents and other Agency staff members to incorporate Sustainable Agriculture concepts in meetings, workshops, field days and other appropriate educational activities by conducting in-service training for Field Staff of Alcorn State University Program and Natural Resources Conservation Service District Conservationist using SARE materials from Chapter 1 and Chapter 3 grants focused specifically on Sustainable Agriculture systems and how Agents can apply this information in their respective areas of responsibility. Training will involve scheduled In-Service for Extension agents; presentations at NGO area meetings, as appropriate; and encouraging attendance at SARE related meetings by providing some funding for travel to these meetings.
D) Increase involvement in the various grant programs.
State Coordinators will distribute information to appropriate individuals to inform them of SARE grant opportunities and work with interested individuals in the development and submission of their proposals. Assisting with various grant proposals may help link similar projects to broaden the scope of a project or encourage regional or multi-state cooperation. Results from funded projects can be used within the state in sustainable agriculture educational efforts.
E) Seek to make both commodity group and legislative leaders aware of Sustainable Agriculture and its implications to all-Mississippian – both producers and consumers.
Our committee will seek to make both commodity groups and legislative leaders aware of the Sustainable Agriculture program and its implications to all Mississippian’s both producers and consumers. By building upon the contacts and relationships each committee member has throughout the state we can establish new ties with organizations and state leaders to leverage the promotion of sustainable agriculture programs.
The expected outcome of these specific objectives are:
a) Better coordination of resources; increased awareness of the SARE program and facilitate distribution of SARE resource information.
b) Increased adoption of sustainable agriculture concepts.
c) Increased use of SARE resources in educational programs.
d) Increase development of new sustainable agriculture practices and information delivery to farmers and communities and to promote regional, multi-state involvement.
e) Increases awareness of sustainable agriculture concepts that improves the quality of life in Mississippi communities.
Education & Outreach Initiatives
• To utilize research-based information to enhance knowledge, skills, experience, and to stimulate hands-on education for limited-resource farmers and other members of the agriculture community concerning sustainable agriculture.
To accomplish the objective, Alcorn State University Extension Production (ASUEP) vegetable curriculum entitled “Guide to Vegetable Production” was used to conduct four (4) hands-on training workshops and two field days on education training as it relates to sustainable vegetable production practices. The curriculum and supplemental educational materials for the lesson content was distributed to the participants. The training sessions emphasize a systems approach to sustainable vegetable production (e.g. the use of biological pest control and promotion of biodiversity). The proposed training topics discussed the essentials of crop production processes, focusing on site selection, soil fertility, composting, crop rotation, cover crops, tillage equipment and field preparation, seeds and transplants, irrigation and spraying systems, harvest and postharvest handling, integrated pest management, and environmentally friendly strategies for managing insects, diseases, weeds, and wildlife. The sessions included hands-on demonstrations of several activities that will assist participants in their farming practice. The hands-on activity also include learning about biological control through an interactive predator-prey game, using microscopes to observe small organisms, devising mechanical methods to monitor or control pests, or reading and evaluating current material on environmental problems to derive solutions for those problems. A total of 350 famers and agriculture professionals attended the workshops and fieldays
In a broad sense, we expect that this project will result in: (1) Increased capacity by the university to provide research-based information on sustainable production practices in relation to economics and ecological performance. (2) Increased opportunities to apply system approaches to agricultural management practices with practical value to farmers. (3) Ensure that farmers continue to have a guiding role in sustainable crop production practices as it moves from working farms onto land grant experiment stations. (4) Increased number of farmers that engage in good sustainable agricultural practices and farm record keeping (5) Increased financing opportunities for sustainable crop production farmers. (6) Increased networking and collaboration opportunities for farmers, researchers and extension
Educational & Outreach Activities
Face of SARE
Through use of distant education resources, printed materials, workshops, field days and display SARE program information at educational programs throughout the state hence, was SARE was promoted as a positive concept to farmers, NGO’s and general public.