FoodCorps & Partners Build Urban Farm in Mississippi Park

By Cristina Carreon, Daily Journal

TUPELO – Local volunteers met Friday at Barnes and Freeman streets to begin rebuilding the Park Hill Community Garden in order to get the surrounding neighborhood and area students involved in the urban farming project.

“It’s our goal for this to be a community jewel,” said Keep Tupelo Beautiful Executive Director Kathryn Rhea.

Donna Loden, a retired schoolteacher, is the coordinator of Growing Healthy Waves, a farm-to-school initiative that partners with Food Corps and the Tupelo Public School District – a partnership that started four years ago.

“We want to talk to the kids and the parents about the different vegetables we’re going to put in it and the benefits of vegetables to the body and fruit trees,” Loden said.

Sara Murphy is a Food Corps service member serving the Tupelo Public School District through July.

“I think there’s a huge health crisis across the county as well as an environmental crisis happening across the world, so getting the kids to get their hands dirty and connect back to the earth and where their food comes from I think can change their lives and set them up for success,” Murphy said.

Food Corps has partnered with the district to teach cooking classes, offer taste tests and create gardens at area elementary schools such as Joyner, Lawhon and Lawndale – and has also implemented salad bars at a few school cafeterias such as Joyner and Parkway elementary schools.