Fruits of the community: The public garden flourishes

NATCHEZ, Miss. (AP) – Flowers grow among and among the plants that grow in Ocelot Park. Okra, tomatoes, cucumbers, mustard greens and zucchini are planted in the community garden on Choctaw Street between Cherokee and Creek streets.

The garden sits adjacent to the playground without a fence, as obstacles may be undesirable, Ward 1 Alderman Valencia Hall said.

The produce is aimed at seniors and disabled members of the community who need vegetables but may find it too difficult to get to the store, Hall added.

Dr. Daniel Collins, professor of plant pathology at Alcorn State University, volunteers to plant and tend the crops as an educational opportunity for his students. If a plant is sick, he brings it to the campus lab where he and his students can diagnose and resolve the issue, then adjust the community garden as needed.

Since the garden started a year ago, the community has eaten everything and loved it, Hall said.

Hall hopes to get elementary schools involved, so youth can go on field trips to Osceola Park to learn about subsistence agriculture and enjoy fresh vegetables.

“My dad loved to garden when I was a kid,” Hall said, recalling her childhood home with its mustard greens and tomato garden.

Jason Jones and Calvin Keen, in addition to extension services, help keep the crop healthy, he said.

Eddie Burks and Judge Jim Blow both volunteered to harvest and harvest the vegetables and distribute them to senior citizens centers and residents’ homes.

Burks attended the farmers market, which he ran.

“It’s a learning process. They understand how hard it is to grow up. “I have a lot of respect for Full Time Farmers,” Birks said.

People want the fresh food, Burks said, and he enjoys getting to know people from the community.

“It’s an introduction, but you never know what it could lead to,” Burks said.

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