School of AREAS hosts 2016 Local Foods System Workshop, Future Workshops Planned

A local foods systems workshop was held on October 12, to provide a more complete representation of the local foods system. Local farmers and agribusinesses were able to network, and give their insights during interactive sessions.

The workshop was sponsored by the Alcorn State University School of Agriculture, Research, Extension, and Applied Sciences Mississippi Small Farm and Agribusiness Center in collaboration with the Mississippi State University Extension Center and Southern Rural Development Center. The workshop was held on the Lorman campus.

During the workshop, the Local Food Resource Mapping Project was discussed. The project started October 2015 will end August 2017. The project overview was given by Chance McDavid, senior extension associate, Mississippi State University Extension and Southern Rural Development Center. Northeast Regional Center for Rural Development serves as the lead organization of the project.

The project key collaborators include the USDA Agriculture Marketing Service, National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Regional Rural Development Centers, and the Land-Grant Extension Personnel. The pilot states for this project are Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, and North Carolina. The overall goal is to help create networks and build databases to share with one another.

Following introductions, the participants were asked various focus group questions about the food delivery system, which provided diverse perspectives.

“We had a really good conversation. There was a variety of perspectives in regards to local food systems in our region. Everyone expressed the need for more coordination and networking opportunities for people engaged in local food systems,” said McDavid.

Ten more local food workshops will be held throughout the Mississippi over the course of the six weeks. These locations include Gulfport, Corinth, Greenwood, Hattiesburg, Hernando, Jackson, Marks, Oxford, Starkville, and Verona. Anyone involved in the farm-to-table movement is invited to attend: producers, buyers, technical assistance providers, cooperative/market managers, transporters/distributors, economic/community development organizations and others.

Pre-registration is required. Participants may register online at

“Overall, it was a great meeting. Participants and producers that attended were given insight on the opportunities and challenges of the local food systems and how producers can connect with food retailers, grocery stores, processors, caterers, chefs, and consumers,” said Elizabeth Myles, marketing specialist, Mississippi Small Farm and Agribusiness Center.

For more details, contact Elizabeth Myles, at 601-877-3947 or [email protected].