Delta Fresh Foods Initiative

Images from Delta Fresh Foods Initiative

In February 2010, over 130 community members from across the Mississippi Delta came together at Delta State University in Cleveland, MS for two days of relationship building, visioning and strategy development for the future of a healthy, thriving local food system. Out of that meeting the Delta Fresh Foods Initiative was born! Frank Wilbourn grew up on a 100 acre family farm in Marks, MS. After spending four decades in the steel mills of the north, Frank returned home, bought back the land his family had been forced to sell, and began cultivating 5 of those acres into one of the most diversified and sustainable farms in the Delta. Frank grows 95% of what he eats, and sells or gives away the rest of it at local farmers' markets and from the back of his truck under a roadside shade tree. Delta Fresh Foods Initiative board member and founder of the Alliance for Sustainable Agricultural Production, Keith Benson is partnering with landowner, Ms. Maddie Coleman, to cultivate a demonstration farm in Goodman, MS, for the purpose of training and supporting local small growers interested in growing produce using sustainable methods. Angie Crawford, of the MS State Extension Service, taught cooking classes for Delta Fresh Foods Initiative as part of the "Coahoma County Good Food Revolution" using produce from the kitchen garden DFFI established at the Coahoma County Higher Education Center in Clarksdale, MS. In 2011, Delta Fresh Foods Initiative board member, Dorothy Grady-Scarbrough/MEGA held a community training for simple hoop house construction. Delta Fresh Foods Initiative participants and supporters gathered together at Delta State University in Cleveland, MS in January of 2012 to participate in a community evaluation of their impact and to plan for opportunities that lay ahead. C.W. "Doc" Davis on his family farm in Darling, MS. Doc works with Delta Fresh Foods Initiative to provide fresh, local produce to local school districts through the Delta Fresh Farm to School project. Delta Fresh Foods Initiative 2012 board members. Dorothy Grady-Scarbrough, Delta Fresh Foods board member, has farmed in Shelby, MS her entire life. As well as being a district school nurse, she runs MEGA (Mississippians Engaged in Greener Agriculture). Focusing on the needs of under-served and limited resource farmers, MEGA helps new farmers, backyard gardeners, as well as seasoned conventional farmers develop the knowledge, skills, and practices they need to develop small-scale, high-yielding, organic farms whether on a quarter lot in their backyard or in a 7 acre field. Delta Fresh Farm to School grower, and Delta Fresh Foods Initiative board member, Keith Benson, sells watermelon to local Delta school in Mound Bayou as part of a tri-county pilot project to connect school food service purchasing directly with local growers.

Mission Statemtent

The Delta Fresh Foods Initiative (DFFI) is a diverse coalition of community stakeholders committed to establishing sustainable, equitable community food systems in the Mississippi Delta. Members of the group include growers, consumers, health and agriculture educators, food retailers (including farmers’ markets and other outlets), community-based organizations, funders, healthy food advocates and more.


Dr. Deborah Moore, president

Julian Miller, vice president

Brooke Smith, treasurer


Dorothy Grady Scarbrough, MEGA

Board Members

Valeria Hawkins, Alliance for a Healthier Generation

Keith Benson, Alliance for Sustainable Agricultural Production

DeMarc Hickson, My Brother’s Keeper

Josh Walker, Mothlite Media

Judy Belue