Mayor Mary Hawkins Butler welcomed participants to a recent workshop at the Cotten family farm on Cotten Hill Road. The Madison workshop was one of a series across the state sponsored by Alcorn State University's Small Small Farm & Business Agribusiness Center to help local farmers.
Mayor Mary Hawkins Butler welcomed participants to a recent workshop at the Cotten family farm on Cotten Hill Road. The Madison workshop was one of a series across the state sponsored by Alcorn State University's Small Small Farm & Business Agribusiness Center to help local farmers.
The Cotten family has been growing crops in the heart of Madison for generations.

Located on Cotten Hill Road, the family grows a wide variety of fruits and vegetables and has been a member of the Downtown Madison Farmers Market since its beginning six years ago.

Alcorn State University turned to Robert Cotten, who runs the farming operation Cottenball Express, for hosting a recent workshop for area farmers.  The New & Beginning Farmers & Ranchers Workshop in Madison is one of a series of on-the-ground training seminars across the state.

“The Cotten family has been a leader in Madison for decades, and I’m proud to see this farming family join with Alcorn State University to help producers starting out. By sharing their expertise, the Cottens are helping grow a new crop of farmers to feed us,” Mayor Mary Hawkins Butler said.

About 20 farmers from around the area listened to speakers share their expertise on how to make family farms work. 

“Farming is a risk. You try to mitigate those risks,” Dr. Elizabeth Myles, project director for Alcorn State’s Mississippi Small Farm & Agribusiness Center that is leading the series of workshops.

Sam Humphrey, the owner/farmer at Fertile Ground Farms on Commerce Park Drive in Jackson, shared how he keeps detailed plans for growing a wide variety of crops on a quarter acre. “Crop planning is something all farmers should do. I have a quarter acre so I should make it worth my while to set up a crop plan to maximize my square footage,” he said. 

Myles told the farmers that all producers face production, marketing, financial, legal/environmental and other risks. The way to minimize those risks is “have a plan in place – a contingency, what if plan.”