Fruit and Vegetable Festival and Extension Awareness Day

Encouraging healthy living by enjoying foods with natural ingredients was the purpose of the third annual Fruit and Vegetable Festival and seventh annual Extension Awareness Day July 19, at the Natchez Farmers Market.

“We are promoting living a healthy lifestyle by using value-added foods and natural wholesome ingredients,” said Helen Brooks, Alcorn State University Extension Program (ASUEP) marketing coordinator of the Natchez Farmers Market.

“We want to make the community aware of the services we offer through our Extension programs and help people help themselves,” said Brooks.

Visitors came for fresh fruits and vegetables, jams and desserts, food samples and information about ASUEP programs.

On display were samples of tasty and healthy homemade dishes such as blueberry delight, spicy stuffed patty pans and fig jam. Avian Brummell, Alcorn student and Farmers Market intern, explained the healthy recipes, and provided samples and recipes to take home.

Edith Ezekwe, nutrition specialist at Alcorn, and Malah Dahn, ASUEP intern, made a spinach, banana, cranberry and lemon smoothie on site for customers to sample.

“I am trying to encourage community members to increase consumption of vegetables,” Ezekwe said of her smoothie, rich with vitamins essential to one’s health. “Once they tried it, customers were surprised how much they enjoyed it.”

Fayette’s Bakery and Coffee Shop was also a hit with customers who enjoyed their deserts with organic ingredients and natural healthy substitutes, such as honey for sugar. The Bakery displayed an assortment of breads, cakes, cookies, cupcakes and pies that were quickly sold.

Rachae’ Martin, business management training officer, represented ASUEP’s financial management; Ira Martin, Expanded Food and Nutrition Educator Program, showed hidden sugars in foods and explained how to make substitutions with healthier ingredients; and, Dr. Brenda Robinson, area 4-H youth development extension educator with the Adams County Extension office, had a table display focused on preventing risky behavior in youths.

“Our program covers risky behaviors in youth such as bullying, drugs, alcohol and teen pregnancy. Our program is very successful within the school system and effective in the communities,” Robinson stated.

As predicted, the Festival was a huge success and customers were able to buy fresh fruits and vegetables, taste healthy foods and deserts, and became aware of new ways to create healthy dishes and of the programs that ASUEP has to offer the community.

“As I say when I sign off of the weekly ‘Extension this Week’ radio show, I want people to leave with more knowledge than they came with,” Brooks said.

For additional information on the Natchez Farmers Market, contact Helen Brooks at (601) 442-4648 or [email protected].

Pictured: Avian Brummell explains to the Festival participant a modified recipe as she offers her a delicious sample.

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