Building a System of Sustainable Agriculture in the Southeast Black Belt Region Through Education and Technical Assistance

Project Overview

Project Type: Education Only
Funds awarded in 2018: $47,000.00
Projected End Date: 03/31/2020
Grant Recipient: McIntosh Sustainable Environment and Economic Development
Region: Southern
State: Georgia
Principal Investigator:
John Littles, Sr
McIntosh SEED


Not commodity specific


  • Education and Training: demonstration, farmer to farmer, technical assistance, workshop
  • Farm Business Management: cooperatives, farmers' markets/farm stands, new enterprise development, value added
  • Pest Management: mulching - plastic
  • Production Systems: aquaponics
  • Soil Management: soil analysis, soil quality/health
  • Sustainable Communities: community development, employment opportunities, infrastructure analysis, local and regional food systems, new business opportunities, social capital, urban/rural integration

    Proposal abstract:

    Our farming constituency have a wealth of know-how, but are disconnected from lucrative markets because their farms are small, in low populations areas, and lack sufficient upfront capital; have old and/or no equipment; cannot access loan programs, and have limited and/or no family involvement in the farming business. All of the regions identified by this project are high poverty, limited resource and/or impoverished. The farmers live in low-wealth, impoverished and neglected communities.

    By providing capacity building and support, McIntosh SEED and partners propose to help farmers to assess and better understand the existing and potential agricultural opportunities and demands, discover connections and find common vision among growers, develop individual and collective action plans to expand livelihood opportunities, build more local and regional self reliance, connect inter-generational farmers in order to sustain farming knowledge and practices, preserve the land, and retain local ownership and control of farms and local food systems.

    Project partners view this project as a great opportunity to improve conservation practices and create economic development and job creation in rural and impoverished areas in the Southeast. This project will benefit communities located in areas of concentrated poverty with limited access to supermarkets and will be implemented in and support agribusinesses located in rural areas or towns that have populations of 50,000 or less.

    Through outreach and educational efforts, the project will increase the number of farmers added to FSA roles, increase participation in NRCS financial assistance programs, including EQIP programs to receive hoop houses, irrigation wells and irrigation systems. In addition, the project will assist farmers increase underutilized land into production, improve growing practices and methods, provide access to resources for farmers to improve their farms, and diversify their product lines with the potential to increase and generate potential income for their farms, farm business and households. With access to resources from FSA and NRCS, universities, and extension cooperatives, the project will help build capacity to help farmers understand potential agricultural opportunities and demands and put them on track for sustainable practices for their land.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    Objective 1: To provide outreach and technical assistance and training to minority and/or small-scale farmers in:

    • programs and assistance from USDA and FSA;
    • NRCS programs and application processes;
    • food safety and growing protocols;
    • GAP or GHP certification on 50 acres;
    • hoop house development and management;
    • Best Management Practices;
    • connecting and expanding local and regional markets; and
    • putting under utilized land into production.

    Objective 2: Assist farmers and ranchers in obtaining access to USDA programs in partnership with NRCS.

    Objective 3: Cultivate new wholesale market channels for locally grown foods by providing peer to peer training on how to grow for market demand and how to grow crops together from farm to farm to meet market demand.

    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.