Friday, November 21, 2014

The Dirt - November 2014


Gulf States Office Helps Veterans

Armed to FarmOur Gulf States Regional Director Rockiell Woods and Specialist Felicia Bell hosted a week-long Armed to Farm training for veterans from Mississippi and the surrounding states. More than 30 men and women veterans of all branches of the military, and of diverse ages and backgrounds, attended the event. There was hands-on training at a variety of local farms and ranches, including Beaverdam Fresh Farms, Francis Flowers & Herb Farm, and Uncle Bubba's Farm, which gave participants the opportunity to build poultry tractors, build fence for swine, and assist with hoophouse construction. They also visited the Mississippi Modern Homestead Center, the Mississippi Meat Goat Producers Cooperative, and the Alliance for Sustainable Agricultural Production.


Staff provided classroom instruction that covered risk management, and business and financial planning. Rock reports that the training was very successful, and said, "In addition to the great instruction provided to the participants, it was a good networking opportunity for the veterans, allowing them to share experiences and ideas."


This training was made possible through special funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.


Growing Good Food Habits

Rock in fieldThe Gulf States office has added FoodCorps AmeriCorps to its Mississippi projects list. Specialist Felicia Bell is coordinating the project in Mississippi, and arranged pre-service orientation and training in September for the ten service members. The three-day training included classroom instruction and site visits with hands-on work.


The group met at Camp Lake Stephens in Oxford, MS, and enjoyed presentations from representatives of the Oxford School District and the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation. They had the opportunity to learn from local chef Corbin Evans and toured Richardson Vegetable Farm and Homestead Farms & Nursery.


The members spent a morning assisting Camp Lake Stephens staff in planting a fall garden, learning about basic place-based and culturally-appropriate gardening techniques and systems for planting, maintaining the plants, and harvesting produce.tweeting


This year's FoodCorps Fellow in Mississippi is Liz Broussard, who assisted Felicia with the training.


With training completed, the service members traveled to their host sites to begin their terms. Contact Felicia Bell at or call 479-575-1386 for more information or to help with FoodCorps efforts.


Sound and Sensible Organics

QCS LogoUSDA LogoNCAT's Gulf States office, in partnership with Quality Certification Services (QCS) of Gainesville, Florida, is offering a series of workshops about organic certification for producers in the Gulf States region. These workshops are intended to enlist new farmers and ranchers in Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, Florida, and Georgia interested in the National Organic Program (NOP) and help them learn how to become NOP-certified.


The trainings will provide information and expertise to farmers interested in NOP and answer questions regarding organic farm practices and NOP certification.


According to Gulf States Regional Director Rockiell Woods, one goal of the workshops is to reach and educate new, beginning, minority, and historically underserved farmers to help them with organic and sustainable farming. "We also want to aid farmers in transitioning from conventional farm systems to certified organic and sustainable farming practices," said Woods.


The workshops will be offered in two parts, with the first workshop covering the basics of organic production and how to get certified organic. The second workshop series will be offered in the spring of 2015 and act as a follow-up for farmers who took part in the first series as well as any others interested in switching to certified organic production. The training team will help any of the workshop participants who want to set up a site inspection on their farms. There will be workshop days in each of the five states to answer questions participants may have, conduct mock inspections, and schedule organic certification inspections.


The current list of scheduled workshops is available on the NCAT website. Watch your email for further details, or visit


Intensive Grazing Pilot Project

Rockiel WoodsOur Gulf States office received a grant from the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service — Grazing Land Conservation Initiative to conduct a pilot project on management intensive grazing (MiG) in Mississippi. Specialist Felicia Bell is working with a local producer to develop a demonstration farm showcasing MIG and other sustainable agriculture practices.


In a traditional grazing program, livestock are turned out on pastures and then removed when forage has been depleted. Uneven grazing, such as over-grazing of individual plants and under-grazing of other parts of a pasture can sometimes occur. This can result in a decrease in desirable grasses and an increase in weeds and other undesirable vegetation.


To avoid this, some landowners use a pasture rotation system with short grazing periods followed by intervals of rest for the pasture. This involves moving animals from one pasture to the next as forage is depleted. Management intensive grazing takes this concept even further using smaller pastures and moving animals to fresh pasture more often, perhaps even daily. This increases the harvest efficiency, improves soil health, and allows for better distribution of nutrients, among other positive effects.


With the project nearly complete, Felicia plans a public field day to showcase the changes the MiG project can bring to pasture. Watch this newsletter and the Gulf States Regional Office website — — for more information on the tour.



The Gulf States office is available to provide sustainable agriculture information and technical assistance across the five-state region: Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, Georgia and Florida. Call us for more information on how we can assist your organization, toll free:
(866) 643-2767.


Have a farm or ranch question?

Call ATTRA, the National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service toll-free at:

Or, en Espanol:



is a project of the National Center for Appropriate Technology



Contact the Gulf States office at
Suite 212
510 George Street
Jackson, MS 39202;

We would love to hear your input! What can we do to help you?
Give us a call (toll free): (866) 643-2767


Local Solutions for a Sustainable Future!

We routinely publish news and events as they are happening on our Regional Page on the NCAT website. Bookmark it to keep up to date!

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Copyright © November 2014
The National Center for Appropriate Technology

NCAT Gulf States mailing address:
2548 Livingston Road
Jackson, MS 39213

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UF/IFAS in the news, 11/21

Good morning. Today’s UF/IFAS news:

Opinion column: A land-grant president for UF


Get ready to feast (Leon)


The food industry's future: University investments and innovations


University of Florida among those receiving $7 million to empower women farmers


2014 Florida Ag Expo Offers Glimpse into the Future of Agriculture


Compost workshop emphasizes reusing, recycling (Pasco)


Peanut Butter Drive Concludes Today (Escambia/scroll down)



Other news:


Are farm crops key players in changes to seasonal carbon cycle? (+video)


Only 10% of heavy drinkers are alcoholics, CDC study finds


WHO: water and sanitation in rural areas seriously underfunded

Mexicans Hold Rally for Missing Students


Gunman at Florida State Spoke of Being Watched





Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Sustainable Food Conference on January 30, 2014

UF/IFAS in the news, 11/19

Good morning! Today’s UF/IFAS news:


Researcher wins prestigious award for strawberry work

Mosquitoes bite fewer male birds


Join University Of Florida IFAS Extension For Its Annual Poinsettia Field Day


Lakeland Animal Nutrition: Feed Recalled After 3 Horses Die in South Florida (page 2)


Try Florida cranberries for Thanksgiving (Seminole Extension mention)


Seminole spends $55K teaching people lawn care (TV)


Buddy Keen named Manatee County's agriculturist of the year



Other news:


Why a star football player traded NFL career for a tractor


Air testing shows low levels of strawberry fumigant


FL Farmworkers Focus Of New Documentary 'Food Chains'

A Plant That Grows Tomatoes Above and Potatoes Below


At least 6 die as snow, cold pummels Northeast

Less money borrowed nationally; fewer UF students getting loans



Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Tonight's Freeze Potential

FN:Mercy Olmstead
TITLE:Assistant Professor
TEL;WORK;VOICE:(352) 273-4772
PO BOX 110690
PO BOX 110690

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I just published some information on my blog in regards to the cold weather coming through tonight in North Central Florida and dipping a bit into Central Florida.


In short, I don’t anticipate any major damage, but if you have tender nursery plants, make sure they are protected so that they don’t suffer freeze damage. 


Thanks, and if you have any questions, please let me know!


Take care,



“The good thing about science is that it’s true whether or not you believe in it”

-Neil DeGrasse Tyson




Friday, November 14, 2014

Announement: Dec 13th Workshop on Sustainable, Small Scale, Pasture Poultry Workshop by Sarasota County Extension

Hello, members and supporters to the SW FL Small Farmers Network (SWFSFN).  We are pleased to send you this announcement for those of you who are interested in pastured poultry enterprises – see attachment.


In case you have not heard, the long awaited Limited Poultry and Egg Farm Operation rule has been adopted! This rule establishes the regulatory parameters for a small scale, 'farm based food establishment'. It is limited to the provision of whole shell eggs and dressed poultry products only.  Permitting By FDACS of Limited Poultry and Egg Farm Operations began in July 1, 2014.


This workshop is the first of three workshops planned to provide educational support to farms interested in starting a limited poultry and egg farm operation using whole farm planning.  (Note: Workshops #2 and #3 will be offered in early 2015).  Registration for this workshop is required and is limited to 25 persons.


This Workshop Part #1 will focus on production and business planning for chickens and turkeys. Here are the description and registration details:


Date:                                     Saturday, Dec 13, 2014

Time:                                    noon to 4 pm

Location:                              701 McIntosh Rd, Sarasota, FL (i.e., the SCTI/AgVoTec Farm in front of McIntosh Middle School)

Cost:                                      $40

Online registration:         see (go to Events Calendar link)

Topics:                                  see registration webpage


Feel free to forward this email and flyer to anyone you know who would be interested in this workshop.  If they are not familiar with the SWFSFN, also inform them of our networking website at


Thanks, and, if you are a farmer vender, have a profitable Saturday at your Farmers Market


Robert A. Kluson, Ph.D.

Agriculture & Natural Resources Extension Agent III

UF/IFAS Extension Sarasota County

Community Services Business Center

6700 Clark Road, Sarasota, FL  34241

(941) 861-9849 (ofc); (941-232-3090 (c)


"There are those who look at things the way they are, and ask why... I dream of things that never were, and ask why not?" - Robert Kennedy



ARS Newslink: November 10 - 14, 2014

ARS News Service
USDA Agricultural Research Service
November 14, 2014

Boosting Butanol's Role in the Biofuel World

Some USDA studies suggest that barley straw and corn stover could be an economical way to produce butanol from agricultural byproducts. (11/14)


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