2020 Model State Program- Alcorn University

Progress report for SMS20-002

Project Type: PDP State Program
Funds awarded in 2020: $11,111.00
Projected End Date: 06/30/2022
Grant Recipient: Alcorn University
Region: Southern
State: Mississippi
State Coordinator:
Dr. Franklin Chukwuma
Alcorn State University
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Project Information


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 includes more public awareness of SARE through either individual contacts made during regional/district/county 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 staff. Attendance at National/Regional 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.
All institutions and agencies involved are committed to this plan and have committed resources of time, money, and personnel to carry it out.

Project Objectives:

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 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.
B) Seek to establish SARE as a familiar positive concept with farmers, NGO’s and public.
C) Increase efforts to get Extension Specialists, Field Agents and other Agency staff members to incorporate
Sustainable Agriculture concepts in educational activities. D) Increase involvement in the various grant programs.
E) Seek to make both commodity groups and legislative leaders aware of Sustainable Agriculture and its implications to all-Mississippians – both producers and consumers.

Previously, committee members have networked with other agencies and stakeholders to provide support and education and/or research needs for the transfer of information to promote adoption of sustainable agriculture practices by end users. We intend to continue in these efforts and feel we have made progress with Sustainable Ag concepts over the years.

In the coming year, we will utilize new stakeholder involvement to leverage our support and communication to all Mississippians. Also having our program efforts approved as part of the Extension program training for agents will magnify the reach of these programs and provide a template for new program efforts. Each year we involve different extension faculty and agents that may not be familiar with SARE and the programs and

opportunities available for their use in their educational efforts. Although we have made efforts to increase participation in SARE grant opportunities, encouraging Extension and Research Faculty, NGO, Farm Groups, Graduate Students and Farmers to consult with State Coordinators prior to submitting a proposal is a high priority so that proposals are developed for the correct grant opportunity and address the grant protocol.


Click linked name(s) to expand/collapse or show everyone's info
  • Dr. Patrick Igbokwe (Educator and Researcher)
  • Calvin Broomfield (Educator)
  • Dr. Franklin Chukwuma (Educator)
  • Dr. Frank Mrema (Educator and Researcher)
  • Margeria Smith (Educator)
  • lazerick Brown (Educator)
  • Anthony Reed (Educator)
  • Ralph Arrington (Educator)


Educational approach:


Field days


Farm Visits




Education & Outreach Initiatives

Educating small and underserved farmers and forest landowners on sustainable agro-forestry practices

a) Educating participants on the cultivation of specialty crops such as shiitake (Lentinula edodes) and oyster (Pleurotus ostreatus).


Alcorn State University Extension Program (ASUEP) through its Extension programming activities worked with underserved farmers and forest landowners (UFFL) to address the fundamental problems of sustainability and probability of small, underserved farmers and forest landowners’. Thus, the cultivation of specialty crops such as shiitake (Lentinula edodes) and oyster (Pleurotus ostreatus) mushrooms could be potential sources of fresh food that can minimize the impact of food insecurity and also provide additional income for underserved farmers and forest landowners (UFFL). Hence, availability of humongous waste woods from timber harvest and thinning in addition to various agricultural residues (corn stover, wheat, rice, and small grain straws) were used as substrate for mushroom production. Thus, Southern SARE Model State Program funds leveraged with state and federal funds were utilized to educate UFFL on the economic opportunities regarding the cultivation of Oyster mushrooms. Oyster mushrooms are nutritious with many vitamins and are excellent sources of fiber and minerals. It takes about thirty days after straws are spawned to produce Oyster mushrooms.  

Due to COVID-19 pandemic which resulted in travel restrictions most of the trainings were conducted through Zoom meetings. Hence, to accomplish the aforementioned goals six zoom training workshops were conducted utilizing wheat straw as substrate to educate UFFL on Oyster mushroom production. Thus, the hands-on trainings exercises include 1) Substrate processing- wheat straw was chopped and soaked for 8-12hrs after which excess water was drained. 2) Pasteurization- placing the chopped straw in hot water (165 °F) for two hours, then the straw was cooled at room temperature. After cooling the straw was spread on a cleaned workplace that is covered with plastic cover to dry for few hours to a maintain moisture level 55-60%. 3) A 10% Oyster spawn was added to the straw. The bags were tied (Fig. 1) and holes punched at 4 to 6 inches spacing to allow aeration. 4) Incubation period- the bags were incubated between 74 to 77 °F in dark room for ten days to fifteen days after which the bags showed some sign of white mycelium, an indication that they were ready to fruit. 5). Fruiting-to initiate fruiting, the temperature was lowered to 68°F, light (cool inflorescence tube light) was provided, and humidity increased to 90% in the growth chamber. With the observation of pinhead mushroom through the holes, this was an indication of the initial stages of fruiting.

A total of eighty-three participants attended the training workshops.  

Outcomes and impacts:
  1. The training workshops addressed both awareness and increased knowledge regarding mushroom production.
  2. Increased income for farmers
  3. Increased networking and collaboration between farmers, researchers and Extension
  4. Ensure that farmers continue to have a guiding role in sustainable crop production practices as it moves working farms onto land grant experiment stations 

Educational & Outreach Activities

5 Consultations
7 Curricula, factsheets or educational tools
4 On-farm demonstrations
20 Online trainings
2 Study circle/focus groups
2 Tours
10 Webinars / talks / presentations
4 Workshop field days

Participation Summary:

15 Extension
8 Researchers
6 Nonprofit
6 Agency
4 Ag service providers (other or unspecified)
144 Farmers/ranchers
14 Others

Learning Outcomes

83 Participants gained or increased knowledge, skills and/or attitudes about sustainable agriculture topics, practices, strategies, approaches
27 Ag professionals intend to use knowledge, attitudes, skills and/or awareness learned

Project Outcomes

3 Grants received that built upon this project
7 New working collaborations
12 Agricultural service provider participants who used knowledge and skills learned through this project (or incorporated project materials) in their educational activities, services, information products and/or tools for farmers
83 Farmers reached through participant's programs
Additional Outcomes:

Survey conducted after each training workshop indicated that majority of the participants (ninety percent) acquired some knowledge about the cultivation of Oyster  and shitake  mushrooms from on-farm residues.

The activities were also developed that educated participants  the economic importance/opportunities on forest farming including benefits of medicinal mushrooms and nutritional herbs such as Moringa oleifera and bitter leaves (Vernonia amygdalina) as new health crops in Mississippi.

These grants assisted to build up the project:

  1. Educating Small and Limited-Resource Farmers the Importance of Agro-Forestry Practices -USDA RREA  2019 
  2. Educating Small and Limited-Resource Farmers the Importance of Agro-Forestry Practices-USDA RREA 2018
  3. Center for Farming Systems, Rural Prosperity and Economic Sustainability- USDA-NIFA   

To conduct more trainings focusing on specialty crops cultivation techniques, Timber Stand Improvement (TSI) awareness and the utilization of waste woods from TSI as substrates for mushroom production. Emphasis should placed on the cultivation of specialty crops to produce fresh foods in the backyard gardens to minimize the impact of food insecurity in Mississippi.

Face of SARE

Face of SARE:

SARE program information were displayed at educational programs throughout the state such as printed materials at workshops, field days and conferences. SARE was also promoted as a positive concept to farmers, NGO's and the general public.  

150 Farmers received information about SARE grant programs and information resources
60 Ag professionals received information about SARE grant programs and information resources
Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.