Minister offers community garden for picking|[07/02/07]

Published 12:00 am Monday, July 2, 2007

After Hurricane Katrina, the Rev. Jessie Jones and his family fled from New Orleans back to Vicksburg, where he and his wife were raised. Now he is working on rebuilding, not just for himself, but for the community.

&#8220We really lost everything,” Jones said. &#8220That’s when you really have to have trust in God. Without God in moments like that, you’d lose your mind.”

For months, the family of 15 hunkered down in Jones’ home at 1605 Martin Luther King, until everyone found someplace to live. Now, all but two remain in Vicksburg, and they aren’t planning on going back to New Orleans.

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As a minister, Jones was a community leader for the past 25 years in Louisiana, and that lifestyle has followed him home. He started a community garden in an empty lot behind his house. Every morning and every night he checks the vegetables and waters them, waiting for the time he can pick and give food to neighbors.

&#8220I always wanted to have a garden,” Jones said. &#8220But since I lived in New Orleans, I couldn’t.”

There, he had only enough space to raise tomatoes.

Jones said God had called him back to Vicksburg, and he was thinking about moving back when Hurricane Katrina hit.

&#8220We hadn’t decided yet to move back here, but then the hurricane decided for us,” he said.

Even though it has been a dry spring, Jones’ garden is coming right along.

&#8220I just love watching things grow,” he said. &#8220I guess I’ve just always been country.”

Along with a garden, Jones said he is going to be starting a church at 522 Locust St.

He has decided to name the new building Soul Saving Baptist Church, after the place where he preached in New Orleans. It was destroyed in the hurricane.

Jones started preaching in 1981 in New Orleans. He had to move from Vicksburg in the 1960s, because, he said, there was little work.

&#8220All I could do was chop cotton, but that only brought in $3 a day,” he said.

After working for nearly 20 years in construction, he said the Lord called him to become a preacher.

Maxine Williams Jones, his wife, said she hopes to start holding services in August. She will take up the responsibility of being program coordinator, as well as anything else that needs to be done, she said.

&#8220I am the mother of the church,” she said.

Carolyn Jones-Smith, Jessie Jones’ daughter, said anyone who needs something is welcome to the garden. It’s more than offering food to people, though, she said, it’s a symbol of hope for a community.

&#8220Just seeing the garden gives me a good feeling,” Smith said. &#8220Every time I pass, it gives me a good feeling.”


A community vegetable garden was planted in the empty lot behind 1605 Martin Luther King. Anyone is welcome to pick as needed. The Rev. Jessie Jones is growing corn, okra, peppers, watermelons, cucumbers, tomatoes and onions. Other than the okra, the vegetables should be ready to be picked the second week in July.