Apply Now for Chefs Taste Challenge!



Calling chefs from all 50 states: apply today for a chance to battle in the inaugural Farm to Table Chefs Taste Challenge (CTC). The Chefs Taste Challenge is currently accepting applications from chefs for this unique event taking place August 7, 2015 at the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. The Chefs Taste Challenge will feature ten chefs from various geographical regions across the United States who will compete to create the best dish that utilizes farm-fresh items from a pantry of seasonal ingredients donated by State Agricultural Departments. Items stocked in the pantry will be representative of ingredients that are in-season in regions across the country at the time of the competition.
Participating chefs’ dishes will be judged by a panel of industry-renowned judges. Confirmed judges so far include Chef Sue Zemanick, the 2014 James Beard award recipient for “Best Chef – South,” Certified Master Chef Brad Barnes of the Culinary Institute of America, and Chef Kevin Belton of the New Orleans School of Cooking, with the top two dishes being selected for Gold and Silver Chefs Taste Challenge awards. A “Fan Favorite” award will also be presented based on voting from dinner attendees. All 10 selected chefs will receive national recognition for their participation in the Chefs Taste Challenge dinner event.

Interested chef participants should refer to the CTC website at for additional information and rules for the event as well as the consideration and selection process. Applications will only be accepted through online submission. The Farm to Table Executive Advisory Council will review all applications and select those chefs who epitomize the farm to table movement.

The deadline for applications to be submitted online via  is April 15th, 2015.

The Chefs Taste Challenge is produced by the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, in partnership with the SoFAB Institute and the LSU AgCenter. The CTC is held in conjunction with the Farm to Table International Conference, taking place August 8-10, 2015 at the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. F2Ti explores the cultivation, distribution and consumption of food and drink sourced locally to globally. For more information on F2Ti, please visit


DSC_0161The inaugural Chefs Taste Challenge will take place on August 7, 2015 at the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center.

Find Chefs Taste Challenge on social media

Instagram: @chefstastechallenge
Hashtag: #CTC15


Posted on March 17, 2015 at


American Farmland Trust Introduces “Growing Food Connections”


Washington, D.C., March 2, 2015 – Eight communities across the country will receive training and assistance to link family farmers and local residents who lack access to healthy food. Growing Food Connections (GFC) will help local governments, planners, family farmers, and consumers work together to strengthen their food systems.


“Growing Food Connections is a landmark, collaborative effort bringing national expertise in food policy and planning to assist citizens and their communities. American Farmland Trust (AFT) and our partners will help create and strengthen local policies to better serve residents,” said AFT President Andrew McElwaine. “We are proud to lead outreach, technical assistance and education in our eight Communities of Opportunity.”


The eight Communities of Opportunity (COOs) are:

Chautauqua County, New York (Jamestown)

Cumberland County, Maine (Portland)

Dougherty County, Georgia (Albany)

Doña Ana County, New Mexico (Las Cruces)

Douglas County, Nebraska (Omaha)

Luna County, New Mexico (Deming)

Polk County, North Carolina (Columbus)

Wyandotte County, Kansas (Kansas City)


“We have found that local leaders want tools and resources, not handouts,” said AFT Assistant Vice President for Programs, Julia Freedgood. “And, that’s what GFC will do – help local governments develop a vision and a game plan to benefit farmers and ranchers and community residents who are

underserved by our current food system.”


Over a three-year period, GFC will help local governments create their own plans, policies, partnerships, and make public investment to support family farmers and enhance food security. The COOs will also serve as models for other communities nationwide that face similar challenges.


Samina Raja, PhD, GFC Principal Investigator and Associate Professor at the University at Buffalo, notes that “these COOs were selected from a competitive nationwide search and application process. The selected local governments will blaze a path for more than 30,000 local governments in the United States that have traditionally overlooked the problems and opportunities in their communities’ food systems.”


AFT will lead outreach efforts in partnership with the Food Systems Planning and Healthy Communities Lab at the University at Buffalo, State University of New York (GFC project lead), Ohio State University, and Cultivating Healthy Places. The American Planning Association and the Growing Food Connections National Advisory Committee also advise the project.


Learn more about GFC at


GFC is a five-year, $3.96 million research initiative funded by award #2012-68004-19894, Agriculture and Food Research Initiative of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

High Tunnel Field Day


DSCF0047Please join us for the George County High Tunnel Field Day this Thursday, March 5th!

When:  9:30 a.m.

Where:  Tubular Structures, 134 Summers Lane, Lucedale, MS 39452

Please RSVP the George County Extension Office at 601.947.4223.



Design and Construction


Pest Control (insects and diseases)

High Tunnel field day flyer

Cochran-Leahy bill would boost farm to school program

Cochran-Leahy bill would boost farm to school program

From The Clarion-Ledger, Mississippi 8:58 p.m. CST February 28, 2015


U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran has joined Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont to introduce the Farm to School Act of 2015, a measure to improve a program that promotes the use of home-state agriculture products in school cafeterias.

The Leahy-Cochran legislation (S. 569) would expand the U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm to School grant program created in 2004 but not funded until 2010. The 2015 legislation would increase school eligibility, reduce barriers for farmer participation, allow broader use of agriculture and aquaculture (including catfish) products and restrict the amount of program funding that can be used for administrative costs.

The bill would raise the program’s authorized level from $5 million to $15 million, and increase the maximum grant award to $200,000. A similar bipartisan reauthorization bill (HR. 1061) has been introduced in the House.

“Farm to School is a simple, but great concept to provide more economic opportunities to farmers and more home-state food options for our schools,” Cochran said.

Farm to Table at the Garden Center


I have long held that no food is more local than that grown in your own garden.  I was recently reading an article in Today’s Garden Center magazine, “Farm to Table Will Change Us” (Februrary 2015).  The editor, Carol Miller, discusses the impact of the Farm-to-Table movement on the retail garden center industry.  She makes an astute observation:  “At its heart, it’s about actual gardening.”


“Admittedly, many who are into the farm-to-table movement just want to buy fresh, locally grown produce.

2014-03-12 11.57.51 But Gen X and Gen Y also celebrate the geeks among them who dive deeply into whichever hobby they take up.  Call it geek chic.  Enough of these new customers are geeking out over the trend and want to know everything they can about growing the tastiest tomatoes, greens, squash and herbs they can.  And they want to learn inventive ways to prepare their harvest to show off to their friends.”

Trends in U.S. Local and Regional Food Systems: A Report to Congress



As a Board member of the Mississippi Food Policy Council, I am happy to share blog posts! Check this one out!

Originally posted on Mississippi Food Policy Council:

by Sarah A. Low, Aaron Adalja, Elizabeth Beaulieu, Nigel Key, Stephen Martinez, Alex Melton, Agnes Perez, Katherine Ralston, Hayden Stewart, Shellye Suttles, Stephen Vogel, and Becca B.R. Jablonski

Administrative Publication No. (AP-068) 89 pp, January 2015

Cover image for ERS report "Trends in U.S. Local and Regional Food Systems: A Report to Congress" (AP-068) This report provides an overview of local and regional food systems across several dimensions. It details the latest economic information on local food producers, consumers, and policy, relying on findings from several national surveys and a synthesis of recent literature to assess the current size of and recent trends in local and regional food systems. Click the report to access.

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Fun and Informative Garden Events @ MSU


Pollinator Condos 

Mississippi State Trial Gardens will present a workshop on ‘Pollinator Condos’ on Tuesday, March 17 from 6:30 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. at Dorman Hall Greenhouse on the campus of Mississippi State University in Starkville. Please come join us and learn how to create a unique habitat for native bees and pollinators. For a small fee, participants will make their own ‘condo’ and will be able to invite some of nature’s best pollinators to call their backyard home! For more information, and to register, find us on facebook at MS Trial Gardens or email


BYOC – Bring Your Own Container

Mississippi State Trial Gardens will present a workshop on ‘BYOC – Bring Your Own Container’ on Tuesday, April 14 from 6:30 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. at Dorman Hall Greenhouse on the campus of Mississippi State University in Starkville. Bring your own container, join us and learn all about container gardening, just in time for spring! Bring any container – 12″ or smaller – and everything else you need to make a stunning container will be provided! Registration is limited with a fee of $20 for each participant. For more information, or to register, email or find us on Facebook at

pollinator condos flier

container workshop – april 2015