Monthly Archives: December 2013

The gift of giving


This time of year, we often hear the phrase:  “the gift of giving.”  I believe that giving truly is a gift.  I have been so fortunate to work with generous people and amazing organizations over the past year.  Along the way, I have also made some special friendships!

In one of my volunteer capacities, I serve as an Earth Team Volunteer (ETV) with the Natural Resources Conservation Service.  The primary purpose of the Earth Team volunteer program is to expand NRCS services by using volunteer time, talent, and energy to help accomplish the NRCS mission.

Usually, I fulfill my ETV responsibilities through my work with People’s Gardens.  Yesterday I was given the opprotunity to help out in a much different way!

salv army gifts 2

Delivering toys to the Salvation Army Kroc Center.

Delivering toys to the Salvation Army Kroc Center.

Toys were collected by NRCS and local Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) personnel in support of the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree program.  I got to play the role of “elf” and help make the delivery.

Thanks to NRCS, SWCD, and the Salvation Army for your efforts throughout the year!

Lunch & Learn with Wayne Porter


The Third Thursday ‘Lunch and Learn’ Home Gardening Workshop Series began in 2011 as a means to provide educational opportunities.  These workshops are designed to give gardeners in-depth knowledge of a particular garden topic. Hopefully, this will translate into more desirable home gardens and landscapes.

Live programs start at 12:05 in the Lauderdale County Extension office on the 5th Floor of the courthouse annex.
These classes are also available by interactive videoconference at your local county extension service office. If you want to attend, please call them in advance to make arrangements.

Please feel free to connect and participate in the programs.

If you have suggestions for future programs, please contact:
Wayne Porter –


January 23* – ‘Cool-season Vegetables’ –This program will cover all aspects of growing the early season garden.

February 20 – ‘Ins and Outs of Grafting Plants’ – A discussion of different grafting techniques and when to use them. Also,
are grafted vegetables in your future?

March 20 – ‘Mulching Mania’ – It is the time of the year to start applying mulch in the landscape. Proper selection and
application will ease problems later on.

April 17 – ‘Rain Barrel Basics, Free Water for the Taking’ – How to construct and use a rain barrel.

May 15 – ‘Basic Landscaping and Mistakes to Avoid’ – How to plan your landscape before you plant your first plant so
you can avoid many common mistakes.

June 19 – ‘Weed Control in the Lawn and Landscape’ – Basic directions on chemical and non-chemical weed control

July 17 – ‘Common Plant Problems’ – There are many reoccurring problems with plants in the garden and landscape.
Learn how to deal with them.

August 21 – ‘Poisonous Plants and How to Live with Them’ – Learn about many plants we grow in the landscape that are potentially dangerous. Some discussion of native plants will also be included.

September 18 – ‘Water Gardens’ – Water gardens will add a new dimension to your landscape. We will look at the basics to building a successful one.

October 16 – ‘Rain Gardens’ – Construct a garden this winter to collect winter rain water and recharge the deep soil.

November 20 – ‘Backyard Fruit Production’ – Proper planning and planting will make your home orchard more successful.

December – No program – Merry Christmas!!!

*This is actually the fourth Thursday of January, but only the third Thursday that we work.


Dr. Wayne Porter
Regional Extension Specialist – Horticulture
410 Constitution Ave. , 5th Floor
Meridian, MS 39301
Phone: 601-482-9764
Fax: 601-482-9777
Discrimination based upon race, color, religion, sex, national
origin, age, disability, or veteran’s status is a violation
of federal and state law and MSU policy and will not
be tolerated. Discrimination based upon sexual orientation
or group affiliation is a violation of MSU policy and
will not be tolerated.

Farm to School MS Market Ready Training


Farm to School Mississippi Market Ready Training

Mississippi State University is offering several one-day Mississippi Market Ready Training events throughout the state to help business owners capitalize on the “buy local” movement. The training includes discussions on current food policy legislation, building relationships with restaurant managers and chefs, proper packaging and labeling, marketing strategies, pricing structures and regulatory concerns.

The workshops, which include refreshments, lunch, training workbooks, and references materials will occur at the following locations:


January 10, 2014         Jackson, MS at the MS Ag & Forestry Museum

January 24, 2014         Hattiesburg, MS at the Forrest County Extension Office

February 7, 2014        Verona, MS at the North MS Research & Extension Center

February 21, 2014     Cleveland, MS at the Bolivar County Extension Center


You may register on the following website:

Good Agricultural Practices Workshops (and they’re FREE)


 Fruit and vegetable growers can learn techniques to make their produce safer for the consumer during one of four upcoming Mississippi State University workshops.

Specialists with the MSU Extension Service and the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station will conduct four separate workshops across the state on developing and implementing good agricultural practices and good handling practices.

The voluntary guidelines, referred to as GAPs and GHPs, were issued by the Food and Drug Administration in 1998 to help growers eliminate food safety hazards that can occur during growing, harvesting, cleaning, washing, sorting, packing and transporting unprocessed foods, such as raw fruits and vegetables.

“More distributors are becoming aware that preventing and controlling the contamination of fresh produce at the farm is key to producing wholesome, healthy products,” said Barakat Mahmoud, an assistant research and Extension professor of food science at MSU. “By completing GAP and GHP certification, producers can assure government regulators and customers worldwide that the produce industry in Mississippi is diligent in its commitment to producing safe, high-quality products.”

The following workshops are scheduled:

  • Jan. 13 at the Forrest County Extension office, 952 Sullivan Dr., Hattiesburg;
  • Feb. 10 at the Frank T. (Butch) Withers Jr. Central Mississippi Research and Extension Center, 1320 Seven Springs Rd., Raymond;
  • Feb. 17 at MSU’s Bost Auditorium, 190 Bost, Starkville campus; and
  • March 11 at the Coastal Research and Extension Center, 1815 Popps Ferry Rd., Biloxi.

All workshops will begin at 8 a.m. and end at 5 p.m.

Topics include site selection and soil; agricultural water; fertilizer and pesticide use; animal exclusion; worker health and hygiene; produce cleaning and water treatment; packing and storage; traceability; harvesting; cooling; transportation; and U.S. Department of Agriculture audit verification checklist.

Registration is free and open to all Mississippi fruit and vegetable growers who sell to the fresh market. Seating at each location is limited to the first 25 participants to preregister. A pre- and post-test will be given. Those completing the course will receive a certificate of completion. Lunch and refreshments will be provided.

To preregister or for more information, contact Mahmoud at 228-762-7783, ext. 301, or

The workshop is funded by the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture through the Southern Risk Management Education Center. Instructors are MSU Extension and research professors Mahmoud, Christine Coker, Eric Stafne and Gary Bachman, and Alcorn State University food safety specialist Nicole Bell.

The MSU workshops are free, but farmers must pay for each independent audit of their farms. Mississippi farmers who successfully pass the certification class can apply for a cost-share program through the Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce to help cover the cost of the initial audit. For more information about this program, contact Michael Lasseter at 601-359-1120 or