The Dirt Gulf States

Good News from NCAT’s Gulf States Region!

We were given a truck! A huge thank you to Patty Peck Honda for donating a truck to be used at the demonstration farm! Their generosity will help our team get things rolling on the farm this spring!

NCAT Demonstration Farm

Anticipation, hope, and determination are in the air at the Gulf States Region demonstration farm. Located at the Piney Woods School south of Jackson, MS, the demonstration farm is on the cusp of its first growing season, and farm manager Sam Humphrey is working hard to get things ready for his first spring planting. He is preparing the soil in the high tunnel and in the field with the goal of serving fresh, site-grown vegetables to the students of Piney Woods School before they leave for the summer.

Starting a new farm enterprise is a process of discovery, and one discovery Sam has unearthed is the soil itself. The soil in his main garden area is a very sticky clay loam. This means he is having to make adjustments to his plans to account for the challenges of clay-rich soils. Thankfully, Sam comes with a great deal of knowledge and experience, as well as a team of ATTRA agriculture specialists he can call on, and he is already adapting with deftness.

Gulf States Activities

Opportunity to Give!

In addition to preparing new garden beds, one critical task Sam is trying to accomplish is to turn a shipping container into a functional storage area for tools and other farm supplies. In order to keep the farm’s tools in as good shape as possible, Sam is devising ways to maintain, wash and store them in an organized and efficient manner. And Sam would love your help! Look for an upcoming flash fundraiser to support the demonstration farm’s creative efforts to convert a shipping container to a functional tool shed!

Farm Finances and Farm Service Agency Workshops in Mississippi

Rockiell Woods has been busy this spring with a number of conferences and workshops, including a series of workshops he is conducting across Mississippi in conjunction with USDA’s Farm Service Agency. These one-day workshops provide attendees with information about Farm Service Agency assistance programs, general farm finance information, estate planning, and record keeping. These are topics that often don’t get the attention they warrant, and Rock has put together an excellent program to help farmers grapple with these issues. Look for e-mail alerts about upcoming workshops in the next few months!

Garden Educator Training

Felicia Bell started the year off with a trip to Santa Cruz, CA, to attend a weeklong training with the School Garden Support Organization Institute. She was there to learn how to prepare teachers to best perform garden education at their schools. She and Mississippi FoodCorps Fellow Marlena Nip, who also attended, are now passing the information on to communities throughout Mississippi who want to improve their garden education efforts.

Felicia, Marlena, NCAT’s Liz Broussard, Warren Wesley from Choctaw Fresh Produce and Calvin Head with Mileston Cooperative traveled to Grow Dat Youth Farm in New Orleans at the beginning of April. Ten Mississippi youth travelled with them to visit this teaching farm and learn how Grow Dat Youth Farm gives high school students in New Orleans the chance to earn money while having an educational experience and gaining life skills. For more on Grow Dat’s innovative approach to garden education, see their website at

The first workshop Felicia and Marlena held for teachers was April 11th and 12th at the Piney Woods School. Science and math teachers attended the garden educator training, as well as teachers from the visual and performing arts departments. Those teachers were learning how to best utilize garden education in their curriculum, and will now be able to weave lessons from the NCAT demonstration farm located on-site into their curriculum in all kinds of creative ways.

Another workshop Felicia and Marlena are helping facilitate is at the 34th St. Wholistic Gardens & Education Center in Gulfport, MS, at the end of April. With spring fully arrived, garden education is sure to be on everyone’s minds!

Upcoming Events

Farm Finances and Farm Service Agency Assistance Programs:

  • May 2nd, 9 am to 3 pm.
    Location: G.W. Henderson Rec. Center, 1165 Abbay Dr., Tunica, MS 38676.
  • May 11th, 10 am to 3 pm.
    Location: Mississippi Delta Council Warehouse, 1536 DeSoto Avenue, Clarksdale, MS 38614.

Register for these at

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