Community Garden Co-Op spurring interest, involvement, investment

Published 4:30 am Sunday, August 6, 2017

By Yolande Robbins

I haven’t been to all of them, but I believe Vicksburg now has five community gardens: the big one down U.S. 61; the one on East Avenue just after you make the turn off Cherry Street; the one in the 1300 block of Main Street (officially, The Jacqueline House Community Garden), and two others.

Now, in addition to their growth and expansion, these gardens are beginning to co-op; to work with and in support of each other rather than being competitive and dueling enterprises.

The recognition of this need was Karen Frederick’s, and it was she who thought to invite all community garden representatives to Mount Calvary last month to consider how we can all work together.

And starting Thursday this new co-op venture will officially begin and hold meetings every second Thursday at Mount Calvary. They will address issues of interest and involvement and to actively promote backyard gardening, especially for children, as they learn the healthful and financial advantages of growing their own food; to create a self-sustaining economy of their own where they’ll not only grow things, but sell them to make their own money; and to share the varied abundance of all the gardens throughout the city.

It is an ambitious and daunting agenda! So, we’re going to begin this week by inviting two of your family members each: one over 30, and the other under 12, to start learning or sharing the basics of food gardening.

We also are seeking to counteract the common presumption that a “community” garden means that you “take,” but you don’t have to “work”.

Frederick said that presumption has taken hold — that you can come get what you want, but you don’t have to work. All most people want to know is that they’re not going to get arrested for trespassing on somebody’s property. But beyond that, she said, they think that the garden magically appears for them; that no one plants, waters, weeds, and hoes things, but that greens and tomatoes just magically appear.

We must show and convince them otherwise, she said.

“Community is not just harvest,” but actually preparing the harvest,” she said, “with a whole lot of work in-between.”

Then, too, Angela Turner reminded everyone that backyard gardening was a major part of the city’s first-time homebuyers’ initiative. She said when a well-defined portion of a paycheck is paying a mortgage, a home-buyer needs every advantage against all those other bills and claims that ravage our wallets and pocketbooks. And growing your own food can lessen that hardship considerably.

So there is every reason for our gardens to co-op and our citizens to help.

And if the children learn to grow, nurture and sell their own produce, especially watermelons during this season, they should easily be able to dispatch at least 10 of them, curbside, at $5 a pop for a total of $50 each for themselves.

 Yolande Robbins is a community correspondent at The Vicksburg Post.  You may reach her at yolanderobbins@fastmail.com.