Honoring those present at the creation

Published 5:20 pm Friday, May 10, 2019

No one was planting on Good Friday this year. The weather was wet and cold. But anticipation was still high and amply rewarded when, on April 29, the ground at The Jacqueline House Community Garden was plowed and ready for the legion of five or six women from the Order of the Eastern Star who descended on it with seeds and plantings.

They had been organized and called into action by Ms. Linda Tolliver of St. Mary’s Episcopal Church to help make that garden this year the best it has ever been!

With seeds and plants donated by all four Episcopal churches of Vicksburg, these women and Mr. Tolliver planted rows of tomatoes, greens, cucumbers, peppers, watermelons, cantaloupes and spices  — all manner and more of good things  — for this community to harvest this spring.

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Their pictures and work are now widely viewed and touted on The Jacqueline House website, vicksburgafricanamericanhistory.org. Go see it.

But in its existence of more than five years, this is the first time this garden has been so expansively seeded, and because it is so centrally located in the heart of the community and city, it has easy access for almost everyone.

The Jacqueline House Community Garden, just up from The Jacqueline House African American Museum, and across from St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, was the brainchild of Brother Gerald Muhammad and his wife, Sister Linda Muhammad, who had noticed the empty and unused lot in the middle of 1300 Main St., and contacted its owner to ask about beginning a community garden there.

They would help, they said, and they did, with their own seeds, labor, and knowledge to begin with. And for the next several years they came and nourished and cared for the garden.

Then came Dr. Josephine Calloway, so beloved and respected as an educator in Vicksburg, now equally well-known as partner and driver in the cab business her father had founded.

And with her came her brother, Francis Williams, a master gardener himself, along with all of his other skills  — and together alone they continued to plant and work that garden  — in the morning before work and in the evening after work, and kept it going and growing themselves.

In fact, this year, Francis was forgoing his own garden at home to concentrate entirely on The Jacqueline House Garden.

And when they saw what Ms. Tolliver and her friends had done, they went at once with their own money and bought and laid soaker hoses for the garden so it would have daily, ample water supply.

And they bought logs as well to mark out the parameters, and weed-killer and other supplies as well as garden instruments. They do that every year anyway.

We are “wealthy” indeed “in our friends.”

So honor these people. They were there at the start.

And they were present at the creation.


Yolande Robbins is a community columnist for The Vicksburg Post. Her column appears in The Post each Sunday.