Monthly Archives: August 2013

Travelogue: Portland – Coffee

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Greetings from Portland, Oregon!  This town is known for its coffee; and there is a coffee shop on nearly every corner( and some in between!).  Here are just a couple that I have visited while here in the city.

Stumptown Roasters

Macchiato @ Stumptown Roasters

Macchiato @ Stumptown Roasters

Another great discovery for coffee…and a snack was Blue Collar Baking Company.DSCN0764

The Stud Finder...

The Stud Finder…

 

I had the Stud Finder personal-sized bundt cake for breakfast.  Cocoa, walnuts, and zucchini.  Yummy!

Upcoming Events!

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Beginning Farmer Workshop

Thursday, August 29, 2013 from 7-9 p.m. at the Green County Vo-Tech Center located at 173 Vo-Tech Rd in Leakesville, MS  39451. 

The National Center for Appropriate Technology is partnering with the Southeast Mississippi Co-op to host a free beginning farmer workshop; this workshop will include such topics as livestock and vegetable production, specialty crops, market gardening, and business management.  Anyone interested in starting a farm or expanding a personal garden to sell crops is invited to attend. The purpose of the meeting is to help revive the economy and the community, according to Dewayne Smith, president of the Co-op. For more information, contact Smith at 601-394-8763 or call the NCAT Gulf States Office in Jackson, MS at (866) 643-2767.

Agripreneurship Series: Working with the USDA

Wednesday, September 18, 2013 from 11:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at the MS State University Multipurpose Center located at 962 Sullivan Rd in Hattiesburg, MS. 

Alcorn State University is partnering with North-South Institute, Inc. to bring you a workshop to learn first-hand how USDA’s programs can benefit you and your farm.  Space is limited, please RSVP to workshops@nsied.org or call 601-443-1539.  Please see the attached flyer for more information.

GAP/GHP Cost-Share Program Available

The Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce is currently offering a cost-share program to provide financial assistance to Mississippi fruit and vegetable farmers receiving Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) and Good Handling Practices (GHP) Certification.  Eligible farmers will receive reimbursement for 75% of the certification costs up to a maximum of $500.  To receive reimbursement, farmers must submit a completed application with proper documentation of costs incurred.  Only audits completed by an approved USDA certifier will be eligible for reimbursement.  A list of auditor contacts is available at www.ams.usda.gov/gapghp.  Funds are available on a first-come, first-serve basis until the funds are depleted.  Funding for this program is provided through the USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant Program.  For more information about this program or to obtain an application, visit www.mdac.ms.gov, call Michael Lasseter at (601) 359-1120 or email michaelL@mdac.ms.gov.

Mississippi Agritourism Annual Conference

The 2013 Mississippi Agritourism Annual Conference will be held November 14-15 at the Pearl River Resort in Philadelphia, MS.  More details to come. 

Mississippi Fruit and Vegetable Growers Annual Conference

The Mississippi Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association is pleased to announce that the annual Mississippi Fruit and Vegetable Growers Conference and Tradeshow will be held November 13-15, 2013 at Pearl River Resort, Silver Star Conference Center in Choctaw, MS. This three-day event will feature a trade show, three tracks of educational presentations, as well as an area farm tour to round out the events.  Activities kick-off Wednesday the 15th with 18 holes at Dancing Rabbit Golf Club with members, vendors, and other conference participants. Over twenty-five sessions on Thursday and Friday will cover general production, agritourism, and sustainable practices in farming. On Thursday evening, conference attendees will enjoy a complimentary Magnolia Fresh Farm-to-Plate hour including drinks and hor d’oeuvres prepared from food provided by our very own Mississippi growers! Friday afternoon, the conference will culminate with a tour of the newly established Choctaw high-tunnel production farm. 

Additional information about the conference and registration can be found at www.msfruitandveg.com.

 

Farm to School Is An Important Ingredient in the Recipe For Success in Purvis, Mississippi

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I just had to share this local success story that was posted on the USDA blog yesterday!

Farm to School Is An Important Ingredient in the Recipe For Success in Purvis, Mississippi

Posted by Steve Watson, USDA Food and Nutrition Service, on August 7, 2013 at 10:40 AM
Farm to school programs are mutually beneficial – kids get fresh fruits and vegetables and farmers build a new customer base.Farm to school programs are mutually beneficial – kids get fresh fruits and vegetables and farmers build a new customer base.

“Our farm to school program helps our district offer more fruits and vegetables on a daily basis,” said Julie Hamilton, school food service director of operations/training for Lamar County Schools in Purvis, Miss.  “Being exposed to more choices, the young students will learn to like them and make healthier food choices over their lifetimes.”

Offering more fruits and vegetables to students is part of the new requirements recently passed by Congress to improve nutrition in the nation’s schools.  Utilizing a farm to school approach – where locally sourced products are featured in the school cafeteria – is an effective way to make it easier to meet these new standards and help the students at the same time.

Some of the locally grown produce the Lamar County Schools purchase are apples, grapples, blood oranges, navel oranges, baby carrots, broccoli, cantaloupe, watermelon, kiwi, spinach, romaine lettuce, sweet potatoes, pears, honeydew melons, pluots, nectarines and cabbage.

The school district is very creative in using this produce to develop healthy menus for their students.  They offer a spinach salad with a sprinkle of mozzarella cheese and bacon to make it irresistible.  They also make available pre-made salads everyday that include romaine lettuce and baby carrots.  Kiwi slices are used to garnish a serving of canned fruit.

Signature meals are offered daily with ingredients from the farm. On Monday – it is chicken Caesar with romaine lettuce.  On Tuesday – Mandarin chicken salad with romaine lettuce, baby carrots and cherry tomatoes are served.  On Wednesday — a veggie wrap is offered.  The signature meal for Thursday is fruit and yogurt salad or fruit salad and a peanut butter sandwich.  They end the week by offering chicken or tuna salad on a bed of fresh greens, tomato and broccoli.

The students’ favorites are grapples, kiwi, baby carrots and dip, blood oranges and all the signature meal choices.

Hamilton attributes their success in part to having participated in USDA’s HealthierUS School Challenge.  “It was not as difficult as we expected meeting the fruit and vegetable requirement because we were awarded the Gold Award in five schools and the Gold Award with distinction in six others.  By achieving this award, we were meeting many of the standards for fruits and vegetables already.”

For more information on why offering locally sourced items is important and how USDA supports farm to school programs visit our web site at http://www.fns.usda.gov/farmtoschool.

– See more at: http://blogs.usda.gov/2013/08/07/farm-to-school-is-an-important-ingredient-in-the-recipe-for-success-in-purvis-mississippi/#sthash.A3R21Oc1.dpuf

National Farmers Market Week: August 4-10, 2013

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Summer is in full swing, and it’s a great time to visit your local farmers market!  Here in Mississippi, you can still find watermelons, cantaloupes, squash, cucumbers, and of course, tomatoes!

Below is a press release distributed this morning by the USDA filled with Farmers Market Facts!

 

USDA Celebrates National Farmers Market Week, August 4-10
Confirms Growth and Sustainability in Farmers Markets
WASHINGTON, Aug. 5, 2013 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) on Saturday celebrated National Farmers Market Week with a kick-off event at the Columbia Heights Farmers Market in Washington, D.C.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that 8,144 farmers markets are now listed in USDA’s National Farmers Market Directoryup from about 5,000 in 2008. The Directory, voluntarily updated by farmers market managers, state departments of agriculture, marketing associations, and others, is published online at farmersmarkets.usda.gov. This year, the Directory has been upgraded to include a new Application Programming Interface (API) that improves customer access to farmers market data.

“Farmers markets are an important public face for agriculture and a critical part of our nation’s food system,” said Secretary Tom Vilsack. “They provide benefits not only to the farmers looking for important income opportunities, but also help fill a growing consumer demand for fresh, healthy foods. In recent years, USDA has stepped up efforts to support local and regional marketing opportunities for producers, including a modernized Farmer’s Market Directory to help connect farmers, consumers, communities, and businesses around the country.”

USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) Administrator Anne Alonzo spoke at Saturday’s farmers market celebration at Washington, D.C.’s Columbia Heights Marketplace announcing the newly updated National Farmers Market Directory information.

“Due to consumer demand for local food we are seeing an increase in the diversity of market offerings, and more participation from small businesses and farms,” Agricultural Marketing Service Administrator Anne Alonzo said. “This year we are focusing on the sustainability and maturity of farmers markets- keeping new and old markets thriving and improving. Farmers markets around the country continue to be popular social events for families and communities.”

Local food and direct marketing opportunities, including farmers markets, are one of the fastest growing segments of agriculture. According to the latest Census of Agriculture, direct sales of food products from farmers to individual consumers rose by nearly 50 percent between 2002 and 2007. Worth an estimated $1 billion in 2005, local food sales grew to $4.8 billion in 2007 and nearly $7 billion last year, according to industry estimates. For nearby businesses in major cities across the U.S., having a farmers market nearby means an average increase in sales of anywhere from $19,000 to $15 million (according to a Marketumbrella research paper published in 2012).

The 10 top states account for over half (51.3 percent) of all markets listed in the Directory database:

1. California (759)

2. New York (637)

3. Illinois (336)

4. Michigan (331)

5. Ohio (300)

6. Pennsylvania (290)

7. Massachusetts (289)

8. Wisconsin 286)

9. Missouri (New to list in 2013 – in 2012 was ranked 19th) (246)

9. Virginia (tie) (246)

10. Iowa (229)

10. North Carolina (tie) (229)

Geographic regions like the mid-Atlantic (Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia) increased to a 11.98 percent market share in 2013, from a 11.65 percent in 2012, the Northeast (Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont) increased to a 29.11 percent market share in 2013, from a 27.48 percent share in 2012, and the Southeast region (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee) increased to a 5.03 percent market share in 2013, from a 4.79 percent share in 2012.

USDA has taken several steps to support direct marketing farmers as part of the Department’s commitment to support local and regional food systems, and increase consumer access to fresh, healthy food in communities across the country. For example:

  • The USDA launched a new API for the National Farmers Market Directory in May which helps consumers locate farmers markets nearby. APIs enable programmers to interact directly with an open data source to work with real-time data—rather than a static data export that can become immediately out of date. The development is part of USDA’s commitment to expanding opportunities for our local farmers markets and small businesses.
  • USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), has outfitted morefarmers markets with the ability to accept SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), to improve access to fresh produce and healthy foods by SNAP recipients. USDA recently announced $4 million dollars in available funding to help farmers markets and direct marketing farmers purchase and operate wireless point-of-sale equipment. Currently, over 3,800 farmers markets are authorized to accept SNAP in FY 2012, and farmers markets generate over $16 million in SNAP sales.
  • USDA’s Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative serves the growing local and regional market segment. This Initiative coordinates and strengthens USDA’s work on local and regional food systems.

Many markets will host fun activities to celebrate National Farmers Market Week, including pie contests, festivals, cooking demonstrations, events for kids, raffle drawings and giveaways. USDA officials will visit markets around the country between Aug. 4 and Aug. 10, to honor growers and commemorate National Farmers Market Week.

The USDA National Farmers Market Directory is available atfarmersmarkets.usda.gov. Users can search this year’s enhanced directory for farmers markets based on location, available products, and types of payment accepted, including participation in federal nutrition programs such as SNAP and WIC. Farmers markets that participate in federal nutrition program improve access to healthy food in underserved communities across the country.