Ole Miss Journalism

Stories produced by students in the Meek School of Journalism & New Media

Shrinking paychecks lead to growing gardens in Mississippi

Ila Powell has worked for Fairless Hardware in Tishomingo, Mississippi for more than ten years and says she sees a change in the customers buying plants, seeds and gardening supplies.

“There’s a lot of young people gardening this year,” Powell said.  Powell attributes this to the economy and high prices at the grocery store.

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Ila Powell (left) enjoys helping gardeners find what they need for a new garden. Photo by Rachel Gould

Melissa Bates is someone who decided to try gardening for the first time.

“My reason for gardening is because of food prices and because I want to can and be able to stock up before winter and have good, nutritious food when hard times come,” says Bates.

So far, she’s enjoying it.

“I see it as a hobby and necessity.  I enjoyed because we did it as a family project.”

Danny Owens, agriculture agent for the Tishomingo County Extension Office, says he has a theory about the growth in gardening.

“I believe there is some nostalgia involved—grandma used to grow this and it was so good.  Now people want to get back to that and learn how grandma did it and how she preserved the food, and how she sewed and knitted and quilted, etc.”

According to Owens, the most popular garden item is tomatoes.

“They are easy to grow, easy to can and will be used throughout the winter for spaghetti, soup and chili.”

Veteran gardener, Josie Killough has been digging in the dirt for more than six years.

“My main crops are green beans, squash, okra, peppers and potatoes.  Usually we plant 50 pounds of potatoes,” says Killough.

Beyond that Killough usually plants more than a dozen other fruits and vegetables, and she’s not done, yet.

“This year we are adding more, I always try new things each year, to see what will do good here.  I mostly plant heirloom or open pollinated varieties.”

Patrick Poindexter is an agriculture agent for the extension office in Alcorn County.  He’s seeing the same trends in his part of the state.

“As far as what people like to grow I believe that tomatoes are one of the most requested topics that I respond to during this time of the year.  I have noticed an increase in home gardening requests during the past couple of years here in Alcorn County,” says Poindexter.

Both Poindexter and Owens recommend checking out the website for the Mississippi State Extension Service. 

According to Poindexter, “There are extension offices in all 82 counties in the state of Mississippi, so beginning gardeners have a wealth of information that is available to them through each office.”

Owens also has something to say to new gardeners about the resources available.

“We have an active Master Gardeners group in the county, as do many counties in the state.  People misunderstand the master gardener concept.  They think it is designed for ‘super smart, know everything’ gardeners.  It is truly for everyone from novice to expert who would like to expand their knowledge about gardening,” says Owens.

Powell says most people start their gardens the same way.

“Small gardeners get a little bit of everything they like to eat.”

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This entry was posted on May 8, 2013 by in Gould and tagged , , .
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