Production, Processing, Marketing: Making it Work – Petal, MS

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Who Should Attend?

Anyone wanting to take their farm or ranch to the next level. This course will examine practical and applicable aspects of regenerative farming/ranching, real life economics & marketing, multi-species enterprises, On-Farm USDA Processing, and improving net profitability.  Hands-on experience will be heavily emphasized.

This is a power-packed three days that will change your operation.

What You Will Learn

  • Practical Application of Regenerative Principles
  • How to achieve lasting profitability & resiliency
  • USDA Red Meat & Poultry Processing
  • Processing Solutions & Cut Sheet Determination
  • Creating Productive & Profitable Integrated Systems on Your Farm
  • Multi-Enterprise Economics & Dynamics
  • Functional & Effective Composting

May 21-23, 2024

Tuition of $1,375 includes:
• Regen Ag 101 course ($499.00 value), which we would like you to complete prior to the first day of class;
• In-person attendance at the SHA school, as well as course materials, snacks, water and lunch each day; and
• Access to future scheduled conference calls with the instructors.

About the Farm

Ben’s life journey has gone full circle back to the farm that his Dad purchased while he was in high school. During high school Ben took 4-years of ag classes and was active in Future Farmers of America. However, after school he left the farm and enlisted in the USAF.

Ben started college classes and eventually transitioned his military career to the reserves while attending The University of Southern Mississippi where he completed a degree in Marketing Management.

A few years after graduation, Ben attended Officer Candidate School and was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the MS Air National Guard and retired from there in 2015 as a Colonel.

Ben’s business career included purchasing management positions with numerous companies in Mississippi, Alabama, and North Carolina. During this time he completed requirements for Certified Purchasing Management which opened up numerous opportunities for international travel.

In 2009 Ben returned to his farm roots. Initial operations were based on conventional cow/calf sales following information derived from mainstream publications that focused on tillage, NPK, monoculture, hay, and killing weeds. Results were a downward spiral in soil health and farm profits.

Ben and Beth Simmons

Ben and Beth Simmons

Then, Ben heard about the Stockman Grass Farmer and Polyface Farms in 2011. Together with his wife Beth, they visited Joel’s operation July 2011. In 2012 Mr. John Wood, US Wellness Meats, introduced Ben to The Grassfed Exchange and encouraged him to attend the Bismark, ND conference that year. This completely changed his focus from conventional to “Mimic Nature” and provided him tools, resources, and most importantly mentors.

Grassfed Exchange – spent two years as an Advisor and three as a Board member.

Key farm events include:

  • 2010 cleared 75 acres to add additional pasture
  • 2012 cleared 35 acres to add additional pasture
  • 2012 added pastured poultry per 1,000 limit
  • 2014 added Tamworth pigs to our farm operation
  • 2015 purchased 52 adjoining acres that greatly benefited cattle rotation
  • 2016 built website using GrazeCart. Was one of the first 5 farms
    o Changed from selling half/whole to by the piece beef & pork
    o Added delivery locations for customer pickup
    o Purchased small freezer trailer to make deliveries
  • 2017-18 worked with MS Legislature to adopt the Federal exemption of 20,000 chickens. Failed!!!
  • 2018 August purchased adjoining 160 acres that had never been sold outside of the family that originally homesteaded it. Spent a year clearing trees and another year mulching, building fence, and adding water well with service points. This land has never been tilled nor had chemicals applied onto the soil/plants
  • 2018 September attended a Regional APPPA meeting at an AL farm that operated a small USDA poultry plant
  • 2019 received a MDAC Grant and built a small on-farm USDA poultry processing plant
  • 2020 hired a consultant to help enhance our website
  • 2020 built walk-in freezer, fabrication room, and carcass cooler with the expectation of using a Mobile Slaughter Trailer on farm
  • 2021-2022 used a local USDA plant to slaughter beef/pork then we would bring the carcasses back to the farm for aging, fabrication, freezing.
  • 2022 built our first Johnson-Shu Bioreactors from on-farm materials. Purchased off farm compost to start populating our soils with fungi & protozoa.
  • 2023 June enrolled my son in the Soil Food Web Course and had a consultant visit the farm to build additional compost systems & teach microscope usage.
  • 2023 built Red Meat Slaughter plant to compliment our existing operations.
    NOTE: our poultry operation went from very very basic with multiple upgrades before what you see today.

Four Questions we ask before considering other processes, etc.

1. Do they own the land?
2. Do they own the animals?
3. Do they spend their own capital?
4. Are they successful?

NGF
Girl with chickens
Pigs in grass
adding compost

Today, Nature’s Gourmet Farm is a regenerative ecosystem, stacked multi- species, direct marketing operation that serves the needs of local health conscious families.

Scholarship Money Available

We are committed to helping you finance this educational experience.  If you want to attend one of our 3-day events, you are eligible for a scholarship. Our scholarships for this school were made possible by a donations from the following organizations as well as from private donors.

We encourage anyone with interest to apply. We will be giving special consideration to the following:

  • Students
  • Families or farms with more than one person attending
  • Past SHA students
  • Veterans
  • Agricultural educators and influencers
  • Minority, tribal, women and historically underserved individuals
Battlefields to Fertile Fields logo

Veterans

DKB Scholarship Logo

 Young Beginning Farmers | Women

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Ag Educators and Influencers | Minority | Tribal | Women | Historically Underserved

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Students | Farmers | Alumni | Ag Educators and Influencers | Minority | Tribal | Women | Historically Underserved

Educators

Dr. Allen Williams

Dr. Allen Williams

Eric Fuchs

Eric Fuchs

Morgan Hartman

Morgan Hartman

School Location

New Augusta Community Center
298 Willow St.
New Augusta, MS 39462

Farm Location

Nature's Gourmet Farm
367 McKenzie Road
Petal, MS 39465

Hotel Information

Best Western Premier University Inn
132 Plaza Drive
Hattiesburg, MS 39402

For reservations call (601) 909-6658 and ask for Diya (Dee-ya) or email her at bestwestern25104@gmail.com. The rooms are being held under Soil Health Academy at $120/night

Closest Airport

Hattiesburg-Laurel Airport (PIB)
1002 Terminal Drive
Moselle, MS 39459

(601) 545-3111
United Flights Only

Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport (GPT)
14035 Airport Rd
Gulfport, MS 39503

(228) 863-5951

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