On February 17th, Sipp Culture Community Farms was privileged to host the 99th gathering of the Alliance of Sustainable Farms for the Alliance Field Day. The Alliance has been gathering small farmers for more than 8 years to participate in workshops, demonstrations, and to discuss issues of importance to small farmers working to develop and manage sustainable farm operations.
This particular event was one of the largest gatherings in the Alliance’s history, with more than 100 registrants and more than 75 people in attendance.
The day was a great opportunity for our team at the Sipp Culture Community Farms to share our low-till farming practices and tour our fully automated education-scale greenhouse.
The day consisted of a recordkeeping presentation by Carlton Turner, one of the co-directors of Sipp Culture. This presentation gave practical tips in planning and operating a seasonal crop plan using the online platform TEND. He also shared some self-created documents to help track inputs and outputs of the farm. These documents can be found here. Recordkeeping is not usually a very exciting topic, but this session kept the participants engaged and informed.
Sipp Culture’s partners at the Jackson Hinds Comprehensive Health Center were also on site with their Mobile Unit. Vanessa Cage, Jackson Hinds’ Community Engagement and Outreach Coordinator, was on site with a healthcare professional to provide services and referrals to those in attendance.
Attendees also were gifted with the history of the Utica Normal Institute by Jean Greene, director of the Utica Institute Museum on the campus of Hinds Community College Utica Campus. The Utica Institute was developed by William Holtzclaw in 1903 as a place to educate the Black community in Southwestern Hinds County. The Utica Institute was formed as an extension of the work of the Tuskegee Institute in Tuskegee, Alabama. The great Jean Green also happens to be Sipp Culture’s board chair.
The afternoon saw a presentation on drones by Mr. Azali Muhammad from Alcorn State University’s Department of Agriculture. This presentation provided a comprehensive overview of drone technology and its impact on the modernization of farming management in the 21st century. This presentation was done in two parts: the first was a classroom informational session with a question and answer portion that provided a good foundational entry point to those with little to no experience with drone technology. The second part of the presentation was an opportunity for attendees to get the opportunity to pilot a drone outside on the Sipp Culture Community Farm’s 17 acres. This was one of the highlights of the day.
In addition to the drone demonstration, the afternoon also provided an opportunity for attendees to tour Sipp Culture’s greenhouse. This 1800 square foot building is climate controlled and equipped with an automated overhead irrigation system that includes 144 drip lines for hanging baskets. The tours were given by greenhouse manager Robin Carraway.
Attendees were also able to get a hands-on demonstration on preparation of beds using the low-till method in a permanent raised row structure for vegetable production. This demonstration was led by Sipp Culture agriculturalist Jonathan “Pocket” Trimble. He kept the participants entertained and informed about the primary practice Sipp Culture is employing to grow on our educational farm.
We are excited that we were able to partner with the Alliance for Sustainable Farms to produce this 99th gathering of the Alliance and hope that people were able to walk away with learning and new connections to strengthen the local food production across Mississippi. We look forward to hosting again in the future and to attending other Alliance events throughout the year.