Jamboree visitors informed on advances in farming, food
by Rory Doyle
Sep 14, 2012 | 2598 views | 0 0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Farmers, consultants, students and community members gathered to learn about current agricultural research at the Sweet Potato Jamboree on Thursday.

The annual event, which began in 1987, was hosted at the Alcorn State University Demonstration Center, part of the Alcorn State Extension program in Mound Bayou.

Researchers and extension staff from Alcorn, Mississippi State University and Natural Resource Conservation Service were on hand to present current research findings, describe demonstration plot results and respond to questions.

Other attractions included field tours of the crops, vendors with local products and a sweet potato bake-off competition.

Assistant Extension Administrator Anthony Reed said he was especially pleased with the youth turn out.

"One of the goals today is to get youth involved," said Reed. "A lot of the youth think farming is still about plows and mules, and it’s a lot more advanced than that. We're introducing them to the more scientific and advanced sides of agriculture."

Dr. Cassandra Vaughn, university veterinarian at Alcorn State, was in attendance to recruit students and inform them of agricultural programs offered at the school.

"This event is a great way for us to tell students about agricultural science and connect with the students about programs available to them when they get to college," said Vaughn.

"I think this is a great program," she added. "It spreads awareness for students, farmers and others looking to get involved in the farming business. This event will also help people in this field be more profitable — which is the bottom line."

Reed said he enjoyed the field tours provided at the jamboree.

"We're happy with the addition of the field tours this year because they allow people to see everything up close," said Reed. "Researches and farmers were out there providing great information on new techniques."

Topics discussed included: soil health, low cost irrigation, pollinators, integrated pest management, farm management, NRCS programs and pasture poultry production.

Personnel from NRCS, Farm Service Agency and Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education discussed available opportunities with their agencies on assisting small and limited-resource farmers.

Local vendor Britonya Gort was on site selling about 15 recipes from her Sweet Heat collection of canned products, using produce grown at the facility.

"This is a great event for me," said Gort. "The Extension program has very influential in getting me where I am today with canning — this is where I first came to learn about the process and they even allowed me to use the produce."

Gort said her popular items included dill zucchini and a tomato and eggplant combination.

The bake-off was also a popular activity at the event. The winning contestants were: in first place — Mabel Johnson with sweet potato salad; second place — Ella Henderson with miniature sweet potato cakes; and third place — Viola Wraggs with sweet potato pie.

Reed said he was happy with the overall outcome of the jamboree.

"Today is all about doing things to help improve the quality of life for the citizens of this area and helping them learn about what the Extension center offers," he said.