Jim Wilson, author, gardener, dies at Missouri home at 86

Published 12:02 pm Thursday, August 5, 2010

Jim Wilson, who translated the farming and gardening he did near Vicksburg during the Great Depression into his life’s work, died Sunday, Aug. 1, 2010, at his home in Columbia, Mo., He was 86.

Although he had written 15 books on practical aspects of producing fruits, flowers and vegetables, Wilson was most widely known for his 10-year association with the PBS Victory Garden series.

He was a leader for Master Gardeners, a lifetime honorary member of the National Council of State Garden Clubs and president and Hall of Fame member of the Garden Writers Association of America.

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In 2008, he produced a series of articles on his detailed memories of Vicksburg in the 1920s an 1930s and, since the most recent national recession, had stepped up his advocacy for producing food in small spaces and in city gardens. He was the national spokesman for Plant a Row for the Hungry, a program of the Garden Writers.

“Jim often talked about sitting up all night with his two brothers shelling black-eyed peas, then peddling them door to door for 15 cents a quart,” said Felder Rushing, a Mississippi garden writer and radio host. “Men like Jim Wilson don’t come around often. His warm friendship and his nonstop encouragement will be sorely missed.”

A memorial service will be in Columbia and Wilson’s ashes will be interred in Memphis.