In Mississippi, small farmers struggle to keep their land and make enough money to get by. And across the state, many rural communities and even some urban neighborhoods lack a means of buying fresh food.
The farmers have the food and the people who live in the state’s “food deserts” want the food.
Hence, the Alliance for Sustainable Agricultural Production was born in 2012 in Holmes County and has since expanded to all corners of the state, says Keith Benson, a Holmes farmer and Alliance founder.
“Think about it. These small and mid-size farms are already in rural, under-served communities. We solve both problems by making money for farmers and getting healthy food to the people who need it.”
The Alliance for Sustainable Agricultural Production, which is transitioning to the new name Alliance for Sustainable Farms, hosts “field days” around the state at which local small and mid-size farmers receive training and support from Alliance leaders and ag extension professionals from Mississippi State and Alcorn universities.
“Our first one was in April 2012,” says Benson, whose organization recently held its 57th field day, this one in Greenwood.
“We are going to keep working this thing,” Benson says. “The last field day we had more than 500 participants.”
The Alliance took to the road in 2015 to bring the field days to farm communities across the state, Benson says.
Each field day is held at a local farm.