This blog is for Polk County Florida small farms and pesticide applicators as a method of communication and sharing information. This blog is administered by the University of Florida IFAS Extension Polk County Extension Agent, Mary Beth Henry.
Thursday, July 16, 2015
The Dirt - July 2015
NOP Sound and Sensible Organic Certification Workshop participants in Toney, Alabama
Greetings from the NCAT Gulf States office! We hope you are enjoying your summer! We've had a very busy spring and are excited for all the things to come this summer and fall. You are receiving this newsletter because you have expressed interest in NCAT and the ATTRA program. Thank you for reading and enjoy!
National Organic Program Sound and Sensible Organic Certification Workshops
The Gulf States team spent much of the spring traveling through our region conducting National Organic Program (NOP) Sound and Sensible Organic Certification workshops with our partner, Quality Certification Services (QCS). Located in Gainesville, FL, QCS provides organic as well as other types of certification to producers worldwide and is a program of Florida Certified Organic Growers and Consumers, Inc. (FOG).
Over 115 people attended either the full-day NOP regulations workshop or the half-day mock organic inspections. The mock inspections were designed as a follow-up to the fall series, which consisted of an eight-hour session covering NOP regulations. Conducted on a producer's farm, the mock inspections offered participants hands-on experience with NOP standards, a current producer, and a certification inspector. The series covered the basics of organic production and the steps to become certified organic, including record keeping, tracking prohibited substances and allowable inputs, and livestock certification.
A special thanks to all of the producers who generously opened their farm gates and allowed us to visit their operations!
Welcome Catie Young and Katie Thompson, Farewell to FoodCorps Fellow Liz Broussard
In March, we welcomed Catie Young to the NCAT Gulf States team as a new Sustainable Agriculture Specialist and Outreach Coordinator. Catie was a Master's International Program participant with Peace Corps and the University of Georgia. She served in the Sustainable Agricultural Systems program in the Republic of Panama and received her Master's in Crop and Soil Sciences. She also has experience as a 4-H Youth Development Extension Educator with Purdue University.
Katie Thompson is interning with the Gulf States office this summer. She will be graduating in May 2016 with a Bachelor's in Environmental Studies from Hendrix College in Conway, AR. Prior to joining us, Katie spent her spring semester studying abroad in Brussels, Belgium, where she had the opportunity to intern with an environmental magazine. She has previously interned for the Arkansas Attorney General's Office Environmental Department and hopes to attend law school after graduation.
Food Corps Fellow Transition
Liz Broussard has completed her two-year term as a FoodCorps Fellow and is now passing the baton to Lauren Rhoades. We wish Liz all the best in her future endeavors and we thank her for unwavering leadership. It's been an exciting year as NCAT Gulf States office transitioned into the role as host organization. See Liz's summary of Food Corps Mississippi's year below.
FoodCorps Mississippi Year in Review by Liz Broussard
This year has been a busy one for the Gulf States office's 10 FoodCorps Mississippi service members. Collectively, the service members have built or revitalized 12 gardens, led over 2,807 activities with students, and served over 14,000 hours under the direction of local partner organizations. Through teaching hands-on nutrition and gardening lessons in schools and helping build connections between schools and local farmers, the service members have helped their communities make big strides to connect kids to real, healthy food.
Lauren Rhoades, second-year service member in Jackson, MS, reflects on her experience, "Even after two years of gardening with children, they are still teaching me to question my cynicism, place my faith in the power of nature, and never cease to wonder at the magical life force inside even the humblest of seeds."
James Tolleson, second-year service member in Greenwood, MS, says that his FoodCorps Mississippi service has allowed him to work alongside some inspiring local mentors. "I got to collaborate with people who have fought against racial and economic injustice for decades and now see health and education as major issues of our time!"
As the 2014-15 service term comes to a close, the NCAT Gulf States office is hosting an end-of-the-year celebration and training for new and returning service site supervisors. The celebration, organized by Felicia Bell and Liz Broussard, will recognize the accomplishments of the entire FoodCorps Mississippi team—from the service members, who have committed the past year of their life to public service, to the supervisors who have guided and supported them through it all.
Felicia Bell served as the graduation speaker for the Small Farmer Agricultural Leadership Institute at the Southern University Ag Center in Baton Rouge, LA during their March 21 ceremony. Felicia was a member of the Institute's Class II and was honored to impart her wisdom and story with the graduates.
Felicia traveled to Duluth, GA, to attend the Second Annual Southeastern Sustainable Livestock Coalition Conference March 26-28, 2015. The conference featured Temple Grandin and Mary Berry as the keynote speakers.
Catie Young and Felicia Bell gave a presentation on Community Gardens during the Hunger Free Jackson Coalition's monthly meeting on April 15. Catie spoke on basic questions to consider when planning a community garden and the various types of gardening styles while Felicia focused on the Grow Biointensive Method. Hunger Free Jackson meets the third Wednesday of the month to discuss various topics related to ending hunger in the greater Jackson, MS, area.
The Gulf States team traveled to Atlanta, GA, for the first urban grower's conference sponsored by Truly Living Well and Georgia Micro Enterprise Network. The theme of the conference was "Farming as a Social Enterprise," and over 100 growers signed-up to attend the one-day event on May 14.
Connect with NCAT's Gulf States Office:
510 George Street, Suite 212 Jackson, MS 39202 (479) 575-1385 (866) 643-2767 Toll Free email@example.com [map↗]
NCAT Gulf States staff members will participate in the following events:
Risk Management and Insurance, Legal and Contractual Training Alliance for Sustainable Agricultural Production (ASAP) July 17, 10 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Demonstration Farm-Holmes County, MS More info »
First Coast Specialty Crop Conference Florida Small Farms and Alternative Enterprises August 14-15 University of North Florida, Student Union, Jacksonville, FL More info »
Agricultural Risk Management & Business Development Workshop Small Farms Research Center at Alabama A&M University August 19-21 Mobile, AL More info »
Mid-Florida Small Farms Conference Florida Small Farms and Alternative Enterprises November 6 Mid-Florida Research and Education Center Apopka, FL More info »
Alabama Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association November 19- 20 Clanton, AL More info »
If you have questions about sustainable agriculture production or marketing, using renewable energy on your farm, or how to become certified organic, call ATTRA. We're here to help! 1-800-346-9140 or 1-800-411-3222 en Español.
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: 1-800-346-9140