On September 26, over 300 participants attended the Alcorn State University’s annual Sweet Potato Jamboree and witnessed the ribbon cutting of the newly constructed Extension/Research Farm and Technology Transfer in Mound Bayou, Mississippi.

Farmers, members of the surrounding community and high school students interested in agriculture enjoyed the farm tours where they learned about research on sweet potato that aims at identifying pest and disease-resistant varieties suitable for local conditions. They were also introduced to an alternative crop — giant miscanthus — that has a potential application for biofuel production. The participants learned about the importance of healthy soil for crop growing and everyday life, and witnessed sustainable vegetable production practices.

“I’ve learned that tillage depletes the soil and disturbs its structure. We need to learn to take a better care of our soil. My father and I have a farm where we grow vegetables and I am thankful to Alcorn Extension employees for taking the time to talk to me and assist with identifying the cover crops for our farm to keep our soil healthy,” said Antionette Turner, a farmer from Shelby, Mississippi.

“I always learn something useful at these events,” said Alfred Brown from Drew, Mississippi, Sunflower County, who comes to Alcorn’s Sweet Potato field day every year. “I grow melons in my garden and today I got some information on how to fight pests that affect melons and other fruits and vegetables. I also would like to try growing muscadine grapes.”

The pinnacle of the event was the ribbon cutting ceremony for the newly constructed Extension/Research Farm and Technology Transfer followed by the tour of the state-of-the-art building.

Alcorn President Alfred Rankins Jr. thanked everyone who gathered to share this event with Alcorn State University and Bolivar County. “Considering the history of Bolivar County, I cannot think of a better place for our facility. Alcorn will continue to provide quality applied research for farmers in Bolivar County and the state of Mississippi.”

President Rankins, Dr. Donzell Lee, interim executive vice president and provost, Dr. Barry Bequette, dean and director of land-grant programs for the School of Agriculture, Research, Extension and Applied Sciences (AREAS), Delaney Johnson, state soil conservationist for Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS), Dewayne Goldman, Monsanto Corporation director of stockholder relations, Preston Billings, supervisor, Bolivar County, Johnny Vick, North Bolivar Consolidated School District superintendent, Darryl R. Johnson Sr., mayor of Mount Bayou, and Geri Adams, representative of Senator Bennie Thompson’s office, had the privilege of cutting the ribbon for the new facility.

The winner of the Sweet Potato Bake-off Contest was Taliah Brown whose two dishes tied for first place – sweet potato soup and sweet potato cheese cake. The second place went to Rose Marie McKnight for her sweet potato cake, and the third – Whitney Brown, also for a sweet potato cake. The first, second and third place winners received monetary prizes as well as the honor of their recipes to be included in the Alcorn Extension sweet potato cook book.

For more information on the Extension/Research Farm and Technology Transfer Center, call (662) 741-3375 or contact Dr. Franklin Chukwuma, coordinator of Off-Campus Centers, at [email protected] or (601) 877-2321.