Alcorn State University Model State Program 2023

Progress report for SMS23-002

Project Type: PDP State Program
Funds awarded in 2023: $22,000.00
Projected End Date: 06/30/2024
Grant Recipient: Alcorn State 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. Alcorn State University looks to continue the collaborative efforts for sustainable agriculture training through education and outreach programs on relevant topics for Extension agents, NRCS field staff, agriculture professionals, farmers, and landowners. These training programs help build interest and strengthen farm production practices, especially in the areas of soil health management, integrated pest management, home/community gardening, and overall community farm-to-table connections in the food system for underserved communities across Mississippi. Training goals will be reached by means of in-service education, conferences, workshops, demonstrations, field days, field trips, and publications. The different media sources of the stakeholders will also be used to help reach the different focus 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. As a result of these training activities increases knowledge and confidence for farm production in participating agriculture professionals which then translates to an increased ability to assist resource-limited and small farmers in underserved communities across Mississippi.

Project Objectives:

In 2023, ASU MSP project objectives will focus on training extension agents, agriculture professionals, and farmers to increase knowledge in sustainable agriculture for all farmers throughout Mississippi. To accomplish our mission the specific objectives will be:

  1. Continue the existing and establish new extension trainings and programs on new and emerging solutions to address sustainability in small farm production.
  2. Increase the knowledge and application of soil health management, integrated pest management, intensive small-scale vegetable production, organic production, and home/community gardening by organizing workshops around the state.
  3. Increase the participation of minority, women, and limited resource farmers and professionals for the SARE-funded professional development opportunities.
  4. Provide educational materials on sustainable agriculture to extension agents, agriculture professionals, and farmers
  5. Develop a broad base of interest and skills in agricultural sustainability among extension agents and other professionals for underserved communities in MS.

Sustainable Agriculture has long been associated with either environmental, organic production, or only limited resource farming practices. While sustainable agriculture encompasses these issues, it involves much more. Traditional agriculture producers benefit and utilize sustainable agriculture practices that prove more economical and/or improve the quality of life and the community in which they live. However, few farmers report a lack of accessible information on sustainable agriculture production practices and also a lack of support from local agricultural agents regarding sustainable agriculture. Extension agents need research-based information on sustainable agricultural production practices to support extension programming in this area.

One training objective is to educate twenty to thirty Extension educators on sustainable agricultural production practices to help support Extension programming with a better understanding of the mission of the S-SARE program: “to expand knowledge and adoption of sustainable agriculture practices that are economically viable, environmentally sound and good for all members of the community.” Demonstration of economically viable and environmentally sound practices that work is the best method to increase the adoption of those practices by farmers. In general, Farmers tend to accept information more readily from other farmers through field days, farm tours, or individual discussions. Other target audiences for this training objective include educators, researchers, commodity organizations, agri-business leaders, community leaders, and the general public with program delivery through workshops, seminars, conferences, in-service training, and mass media. Each committee member has the expertise they share with people they interact with and through participation in group gatherings. Knowledge is often transferred through these individual relationships.

Our State Sustainable Agriculture Committee has determined specific training topics based upon the critical needs of the State.  Many educational programs and research efforts already focus on critical issues of Mississippi and incorporate sustainable agriculture concepts in the programs. In Mississippi, there is a close working relationship between the Universities, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Farm Service Agency, MS Dept. Ag and Commerce, MS Farm Bureau, Board of Animal Health, Commodity Organizations, and Dept. of Environmental Quality.

Thus, this program will allow us to address a wide audience, including Extension agents, mentor farmers Extension specialists, and NRCS field staff. Such a diverse group will be able to provide our audience with both education and training on sustainable crop production practices. We intend to conduct five hands-on training workshops and twenty to thirty participants at each workshop. Training provides one with a response to a typical or predictable condition, while education provides one with the ability to respond to new and different situations. Therefore, our audience will be knowledgeable in both economic and ecological subjects and will have the tools to make a better decisions.  Educational resources developed by the professionals will be used during the training workshops. The overriding goal of this training is to develop and distribute research-based information on sustainable production strategies that will influence the ability of small-to-mid-size farms to compete and thrive by making decisions to safeguard the In 2023, ASU MSP project objectives will focus on training extension agents, agriculture professionals, and farmers to increase knowledge in sustainable agriculture for small farm production practices.


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  • Dr. Emran Ali (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)
  • Dr. Patrick Igbokwe (Educator and Researcher)


Educational approach:


Field days


Farm Visits




Education & Outreach Initiatives

Educating small and limited-resource farmers and forest landowners on sustainable crops production practices.

To educate small and limited-resource farmers on sustainable crop production practices.


The Southern SARE Model State Program funds leveraged with state and federal funds were utilized to educate small and limited-resource farmers on sustainable crop production practices. Thus,  Alcorn State University Extension Program (ASUEP) conducted training workshops through its Extension programming activities on the sustainability of agriculture practices, tillage practices, weed control, disease identification, and management, insect identification and management, crop rotation, irrigation, cover crops, controlled environment crop production system and adopting appropriate conservation practices. Farm tours at community gardens were also utilized to expose farmers to high tunnel production, container garden and community support activity (CSA), how to increase the quality of specialty crops, how to increase the yield of specialty crops, risk management for high tunnel production, value-added methods, and techniques for high tunnel production.  In addition to the aforementioned, training workshops participating farmers including other members of the agricultural community also trained farmers on organic fertilizer applications, integrating nutrient management, good agricultural practices (GAPs),  pesticide usage and equipment calibration, and selecting the right pesticide and safety for applicators. Several USDA programs and services including farm record-keeping were also presented to participating farmers. Growers were introduced to the benefits of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Practices and how to improve crop yield and quality.

Outcomes and impacts:

The aforementioned activities have had a positive impact on the wider community by enabling farmers to cultivate and supply fresh fruits and vegetables to local supermarkets and farmers' markets for consumers. Through hands-on training, practical demonstrations, and informative events, the program has empowered not only limited-resource farmers but also individuals keen on agriculture, equipping them with skills to improve crop quality, productivity, and sustainability. Moreover, these initiatives have expanded public access to valuable information. A survey conducted after the training workshops indicated that the majority of the participants (95%) reported an increase in knowledge about sustainable crop production practices.

Educational & Outreach Activities

97 Consultations
5 Curricula, factsheets or educational tools
10 On-farm demonstrations
3 Online trainings
3 Tours
18 Workshop field days

Participation Summary:

10 Extension
3 Researchers
85 Farmers/ranchers

Learning Outcomes

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

Project Outcomes

1 Grant received that built upon this project
5 New working collaborations
2 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

Face of SARE

Face of SARE:

Our outreach and promotion of the SARE program involve a multifaceted approach to ensure broad awareness and participation among small and limited-resource farmers in Mississippi.

A. Outreach Strategies:
1. Community Engagement:

  • Local Partnerships: Collaborating with local agricultural organizations, community centers, and farmer cooperatives to disseminate information about the SARE program.
  • Workshops and Seminars: Hosting regular workshops and seminars in various communities to introduce the SARE program and its benefits.

2. Media and Communication:

  • Newsletters: Distribute quarterly newsletters via email and physical copies to farmers and stakeholders, highlighting program updates, success stories, and upcoming training sessions.

3. Educational Materials:

  • Brochures and Flyers: Creating informative brochures and flyers distributed at local events, farmers’ markets, and agricultural supply stores.
  • Online Resources: Maintaining a dedicated section on the Alcorn State University Extension Program’s website with comprehensive information about the SARE program, including resources, training materials, and success stories.

4. Direct Outreach:

  • Farm Visits: Conducting on-site visits to farms to personally inform farmers about the SARE program and how it can benefit their operations.
  • Extension Agents: Leveraging the network of extension agents to reach out to farmers directly and provide them with tailored information and support regarding the SARE program.

B. Promotion Strategies:
Field Days and Demonstrations: Organizing field days and on-farm demonstrations to showcase sustainable practices promoted by the SARE program.
Conferences and Trade Shows: Participating in agricultural conferences and trade shows to promote the SARE program and network with potential participants.
Collaborations: Partnering with other academic institutions, state and federal agricultural agencies to conduct joint research and extension activities that promote the SARE program.
Grants and Funding Opportunities: Promoting available grants and funding opportunities through the SARE program to encourage participation.
Recognition Programs: Establishing recognition programs to honor and reward farmers who successfully implement sustainable practices learned through the SARE program.
By implementing these comprehensive outreach and promotion strategies, we aim to increase the awareness, participation, and impact of the SARE program among small and limited-resource farmers in Mississippi, ultimately fostering a more sustainable agricultural community.

124 Farmers received information about SARE grant programs and information resources
12 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.