Room to grow.Ben Burkett knows farming. A native of Petal, he grew up helping on his family's farm and has been farming on his own for the last 30 years. But he's working more efficiently these days, thanks to practical assistance from Alcorn State University's Mississippi Small Farm Development Center in Lorman.
The center began operating in 1995 with a mission to assist Mississippi's small-scale farmers in establishing and sustaining their enterprises. To aid some of the state's 43,000 farmers--88 percent of whom are classified as small-scale producers with gross incomes of $50,000 or less--the center controls a $2.5 million revolving fund revolving fund
A fund established for a certain purpose, such as making loans, with the stipulation that repayments to the fund may be used anew for the same purpose.
Noun 1. for small farm loans.
Associate director Gregory Reed has seen the center evolve. "We have made major strides since we began," says Reed. "We are the only program in the country based at a higher learning higher learning
Education or academic accomplishment at the college or university level. institute that has funding to loan to farmers."
Burkett, whose daughter just graduated from Alcorn, and other members of cooperatives like the Indian Springs Indian Springs may refer to:
hazard analysis critical control points. (Hazard Analysis A hazard analysis is a process used to characterize the elements of risk. The results of a hazard analysis is the identification of unacceptable risks and the selection of means of controlling or eliminating them. and Critical Control Point) certification, and the center sent people down here to teach the certification classes for us."
The center also recommends plants that are not only suitable for Mississippi's growing conditions but are also in demand nationally. "They have helped us figure out what varieties to grow, how to grow them best, and which ones have the best markets," says Burkett, who recently began participating in the center's field trials for both culinary and medicinal herbs.
The emerging medicinal plant industry is only one of the center's target endeavors, says center director Magid Dagher; Alcorn experts also encourage farmers to grow shiitake mushrooms Noun 1. shiitake mushroom - edible east Asian mushroom having a golden or dark brown to blackish cap and an inedible stipe
Chinese black mushroom, golden oak mushroom, Lentinus edodes, Oriental black mushroom, shiitake , the second most popular mushroom in the world. "There is a great demand for these mushrooms in the South," says the center's shiitake shiitake,
n See lentinan. specialist, Joe Buzhardt. "... It's possible that in the next few years, we could see shiitake as a primary crop for Mississippi farmers."
For information, call 601/877-6449 or see www.alcorn.edu/outreach/sfdc/.