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On Nov. 6, 2014, Austin Edwards, a Mississippi State University senior graphic design major from Gulfport, explains his concept in class for a new brand image for Earp Farms in Houlka. (Photo by MSU Ag Communications/Kat Lawrence)

MSU class crafts a brand image for Chickasaw farm

MSU Extension Service

MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Jamie Earp operates a successful sweet potato farm in Chickasaw County, but he chose to work with a graphic design class at Mississippi State University to develop a new brand image.

Fifteen graphic art students in Suzanne Powney’s advanced print production class got to work with an actual client as they learned their craft. They completed the service-learning project with Earp.

“This is a client-supported class,” said Powney, an assistant professor of graphic design in the MSU Department of Art. “This semester, we worked on three projects for real clients. One was a cross-college collaboration on a retail space that brought together the departments of architecture, interior design and building construction science. We worked on a logo and brochure for the Oktibbeha County Barn Quilt Trail and now a sweet potato farm.”

In October, the students took a field trip to Earp Farms in Houlka. Jamie Earp, who is co-owner of this farm with Ricky Earp, showed the students the entire operation. He wanted the students to understand what the farm was all about so they could help him address his needs.

“We didn’t really have a presence,” Jamie Earp said. “We do a lot of advertising, and every time I place an ad, they’d always ask me for my logo. We are trying to get an image and a logo.”

Sweet potatoes account for 250 acres of Earp Farms’ 1,800 acres. The rest of the land is in pine trees or milo production. The farm has been in operation since 1967.

“I hope we can expand on what we have already started with our farm,” he said.

Jamie Earp came to the MSU campus Nov. 6 to see each student present his or her vision for a logo and brand image for the farm. Based on these presentations, he will pick his favorite idea to become his farm’s new brand.

Kaitlyn Lincoln, a senior graphic design major from Starkville, said the opportunity to do design work for a farm was a first.

“I tried to give my branding a very Southern feel,” Lincoln said. “The most challenging part was knowing when to stop.”

Students worked mostly with shades of green and orange and used these colors in the development of a logo, which they displayed on letterhead, a business card, clothing and a webpage. They also designed signage for various locations, including a tractor door and on the roadside.

Although everyone worked with the same farm and heard the same information, each student interpreted it differently, trying to translate the essence of the farm into visual imagery.

April Heiselt, director of the MSU Center for the Advancement of Service-Learning Excellence, said service-learning projects like this one provide opportunities for students to meet academic course objectives through meaningful community service with actual clients on real-world projects.

“Working with Jamie Earp to develop a logo and brand for Earp Farms was a great way to help students learn more about the rural communities of Mississippi,” Heiselt said. “It allowed them to connect the theory they learn in the university classroom to practice as they become partners with community members across the state.”

Released: November 14, 2014
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