Jun. 24—TUPELO — "Farming's all about patience," Tupelo resident and farmer Maurice Shumpert told Ward 7 Councilwoman Rosie Jones on a hot Friday afternoon as he was planting the last raised bed in Haven Acres' first community garden.
Two rows of three elevated garden beds cradled a myriad of fruits and vegetables — tomatoes, watermelons, peppers and cucumbers — that Jones hoped would go to those in need in her ward.
"Everybody is hopeful," she said. "I'm excited to see it grow."
Shumpert said he started gardening at home a few years ago. He has a 6-acre plot on his parent's property in Nettleton that he farms on now.
"It started as a hobby and turned into buying a tractor, then some more equipment, and it took off from there," he said. "At first, I just made enough for myself and my family, but now I grow enough to sell."
The community garden takes the term "community" seriously, Jones said. She got permission from local business owner Linda Williams to use the property adjacent to her restaurant to locate the garden. Mississippi Minority Farmers Alliance donated the materials for the raised beds.
Jones said hopes more members of the community would get involved in the garden as it grows, adding she had been out every day during the heat wave this week and last making sure the plants were thoroughly wet and happy.
Shumpert, who is the community outreach chair for a Project ELECT, a Tupelo-based nonprofit, said he was using the garden as an outreach opportunity.
"Project ELECT and I are happy to help Councilwoman Rosie Jones as much as we can," he said.
The garden represents the first of what the freshman councilwoman said is a multi-stage plan to broaden the scope of recreational opportunities, particularly for children, inside the ward she represents. In May, Jones told the Daily Journal she'd also like to see the undeveloped land next to Theron Nichols Park, located on Mitchell Road, put to use. Tax records indicate that the city owns the wooded area east of the park and is considered part of the park's lot.