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The best way to get Jan Cook Houston off her tractor may be to start taking pictures of small or scuffed sweet potatoes destined for processing instead of the large, blemish-free No. 1 grade sweet potatoes. This photo was taken Sept. 20, 2016, in a Vardaman, Mississippi field. (Photo by MSU Extension Service/Linda Breazeale)
September 29, 2016 - Filed Under: Women for Agriculture

VARDAMAN, Miss. -- After 30 years behind a desk, Jan Cook Houston has returned to her first love and her second career, this time seated on a tractor pulling a sweet potato digger.

“Growing up here, I never thought farming was an option for a woman,” Houston said. “Dad didn’t expect me to farm, but he knew I could.”

Houston returned to her roots in 2009, a year that lives in infamy for growers in the heart of Mississippi’s sweet potato country.

September 29, 2016 - Filed Under: Beef

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- The North Mississippi Beef Expo and Cattlemen’s College will offer producers opportunities to hear from a variety of industry experts on Oct. 28 in Batesville.

Mississippi State University Extension Service is coordinating the program with the Mississippi Cattlemen’s Association. The event begins at 8:30 a.m. and concludes at 2 p.m. at the Batesville Civic Center. Lunch is provided.

Agritourism offers opportunities for entertainment -- such as this corn maze shown at Mitchell Farms in Collins, Mississippi -- that also educate about agriculture and add to local revenue streams. (File photo by MSU Extension Service/Kevin Hudson)
September 28, 2016 - Filed Under: Agri-tourism, Rural Development

DUCK HILL, Miss. -- Mississippi is one of many states to proclaim October as Agritourism Month, but the industry’s peak season has already begun in earnest.

Katie Robinson, owner of Bull Bottom Farms in Montgomery County and president of the Mississippi Agritourism Association, opened her family farm’s seventh annual fall festival to the public Sept. 23. She and her husband, Nic, a row crop producer, will host families, students and church groups for the next five weekends.

September 27, 2016 - Filed Under: Agri-tourism, Rural Development

COLUMBUS, Miss. -- Two Mississippi State University Extension Service specialists are among featured speakers at this year’s Mississippi-Tennessee-Alabama Rural Tourism Conference Oct. 24-26.

The annual meeting will provide marketing and communication strategies to assist groups involved in creating attractions and tourism events in their communities. These groups include tourism professionals, fair boards, festival committees, garden clubs, community volunteers and local elected officials.

September 26, 2016 - Filed Under: Community, Economic Development

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Having access to and knowledge of digital devices and Internet use opens up community economic development prospects, and a new report from the Mississippi State University Extension Service offers county-level insights.

Angie Crawford, left, and Mari Alyce Earnest of the Mississippi State University Extension Service office in Quitman County deliver a nutrition education program Sept. 13, 2016, at the community center in Lambert, Mississippi. Extension works with several area organizations to provide food for about 800 underserved families every other month. (Photo by MSU Extension Service/Kevin Hudson)
September 26, 2016 - Filed Under: Food, Nutrition

LAMBERT, Miss. -- Ask anybody in Quitman County, and they will describe the food pantry that opened there in 2014 as one of the rural town’s most important resources.

“Sometimes after my husband and I pay our bills, we don’t have enough money to buy enough food for us,” said Archie Bell, a longtime resident of Lambert, one of several communities in the area served by the pantry. “The food we get here is a blessing because sometimes, it’s what gets us by.”

The Mississippi State University Extension Service offers many programs to help Mississippians battle obesity and associated health risks. (Photo by Can Stock)
September 22, 2016 - Filed Under: Health and Wellness, Health

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Recent data suggests Mississippians are learning that more is not always better when it comes to body weight.

The adult obesity rate has been increasing in the state for many years, but a recent report by the State of Obesity organization shows that a lot of hard work by many Mississippians is making progress. However, much work remains to be done. According to the Sept. 1, 2016, report, Mississippi remains tied with Alabama, West Virginia and Arkansas for second to last with an obesity rate of 35.6 percent.

September 22, 2016 - Filed Under: Landscape and Garden Design

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Creative landscape experts will offer advice and inspiration to professionals and home gardeners alike at an Oct. 19 design symposium at Mississippi State University.

The 61st Edward C. Martin Jr. Landscape Design Symposium is a half-day event held in the MSU Bost Auditorium from 9 a.m. until noon. The event is presented by the MSU Department of Landscape Architecture and the Garden Clubs of Mississippi. It is coordinated by MSU Extension professor Bob Brzuszek.

September 19, 2016 - Filed Under: Fruit, Commercial Fruit and Nuts

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Experts with the Mississippi State University Extension Service and the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station will host a winemaking tutorial next month.

The Growing, Making and Improving Wines Workshop will be held Oct. 21 at the A.B. McKay Food Research and Enology Laboratory in the Thad Cochran Research, Technology and Economic Development Park across from the MSU campus in Starkville.

September 19, 2016 - Filed Under: Agriculture, Food and Health

RAYMOND, Miss. -- Mississippi food producers, buyers, economic developers and marketing professionals can attend an upcoming session of the Local Foods Resource Mapping Project to help strengthen the state’s local food network.

Mississippi is one of six states hosting the pilot project aimed at connecting people interested in the growing farm-to-table movement. Other participating states are Alaska, Arkansas, Arizona, Kentucky and North Carolina.

Minerva Graham (left) and Shelia Sanders, co-directors and co-owners of the Rainbow Learning Center in New Albany, receive educational technical assistance and support for school-age children through the Early Years Network, a program of the Mississippi State University Extension Service. This photo was taken Aug. 25, 2016. (Photo by MSU Extension Service/Alexandra Woolbright)
September 15, 2016 - Filed Under: Children and Parenting

NEW ALBANY, Miss. -- School-age programs can take a backseat to activities for younger children at many child care centers, prompting Minerva Graham to change that situation at Rainbow Learning Center.

More than a decade ago, Graham was working as a schoolteacher in Tupelo, Mississippi, and her friend Shelia Sanders was providing in-home child care.

In 2002, the two women decided to go into business together and open Rainbow Learning Center in New Albany. The co-directors and co-owners have been working to provide quality child care at the center ever since.

September 12, 2016 - Filed Under: Community, Flower Gardens, Vegetable Gardens

CRYSTAL SPRINGS, Miss. -- Gardening enthusiasts and horticulture professionals can learn about the latest plants and gardening techniques during the Fall Flower & Garden Fest Oct. 14 and 15 in Crystal Springs.

September 9, 2016 - Filed Under: Food Safety

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- A food safety specialist with industry and public service experience recently joined the Mississippi State University Extension Service.

Courtney Crist began work as an assistant Extension professor Aug. 16 in the MSU Department of Food Science, Nutrition and Health Promotion.

September 8, 2016 - Filed Under: Irrigation, Soybeans

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Dry September weather has Mississippi soybean producers on opposite ends of the irrigation spectrum: Some are done, while others want to water one more time.

Jason Krutz, irrigation specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, has a question for them: What do the soil moisture sensors say?

September 6, 2016 - Filed Under: Natural Resources

BILOXI, Miss. -- Volunteers can help tidy their beaches and coastal waterways during this year’s Mississippi Coastal Cleanup event Oct. 22.

The 28th annual event begins at 8 a.m. and ends at 11 a.m. at more than 40 cleanup sites in Hancock, Harrison and Jackson counties. Under the direction of Coastal Cleanup zone captains, participants will clear designated areas of debris, such as plastic bottles, cigarette butts, plastic bags and food wrappers.

September 6, 2016 - Filed Under: About Extension, Agriculture

RAYMOND, Miss. -- The new Mississippi State University provost and executive vice president, Judy Bonner, toured the university’s off-campus Extension Service and Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station [MAFES] facilities on Aug. 31 and Sept. 1.

September 6, 2016 - Filed Under: Commercial Horticulture

MOUNT OLIVE, Miss. -- Farmers can learn about growing hydroponic produce and selling their crops to institutions during the upcoming Alliance for Sustainable Agricultural Production field day Sept. 16.

The on-farm field day will be at Triple Eaton Farm, located at 953 Mt. Olive Road in Mt. Olive.

Farm owner Leon Eaton will share his experience of growing hydroponic tomatoes, cucumbers and other vegetables, as well as marketing produce to specialty food stores and restaurants. Attendees will get a tour of Eaton’s hydroponic growing system.

David Young, left, and Sean Meacham, both with the Mississippi State University Geosystems Research Institute, demonstrate one model of unmanned aircraft in Raymond on Aug. 29 for members of Mississippi’s U.S. congressional staff during a two-day tour of the state’s agricultural industry. (Photo by MSU Extension Service/Susan Collins-Smith)
September 2, 2016 - Filed Under: Agriculture

RAYMOND, Miss. -- Members of Mississippi’s U.S. congressional staff met with agricultural producers, industry leaders and Mississippi State University experts during a recent two-day tour.

Six congressional staffers from each district toured key aspects of the state’s No. 1 industry Aug. 29 and 30.

September 2, 2016 - Filed Under: Dairy

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Mississippi dairy farmers have a new specialist to advise them on best management practices and solutions to problems.

Amanda Stone began work on Aug. 16 with the Mississippi State University Extension Service as assistant Extension professor in the Department of Animal and Dairy Sciences.

September 2, 2016 - Filed Under: Agri-tourism, Rural Development

CLEVELAND, Miss. -- Business-minded Mississippians who realize that tourism is a lucrative enterprise that reaches far beyond the state’s beaches will have an opportunity for training and funding in October.

Leveraging Cultural Tourism for Community Development is a two-day workshop planned for Oct. 13-14 in Cleveland, Mississippi. It will teach anyone interested and involved in tourism how to design tours, create weekend getaways and capitalize on current tourism trends and resources available in the Mississippi Delta.

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