The Delta Health Alliance

Leland Neighborhood Garden

Posted on: December 4, 2019

The residents of Leland’s Ward Three are all about growth. Less than a year after forming their own neighborhood association, they are now breaking ground on a neighborhood garden that will enhance the quality of life for the entire community.

“Ward Three is such an active collection of neighborhoods, and we want to be part of every activity,” said Christina Miller, who serves as secretary of the neighborhood association that was formed in January. “Our goal is to take on the projects that will give back to the community, and our new garden will be a big part of doing that.”

With the help and expertise of the Delta Health Alliance and its Delta EATS program, the half-acre garden is being built on the grounds of the South Delta Regional Housing Authority near the Leland Career and Technical Education Center, which will play a large role in the success of the neighborhood garden and the other gardens under the purview of DHA.

“We’ve moved 3,000 seed plants to a greenhouse that had gone unused at the Career and Technical Center,” explained Ryan Betz, a certified gardener and Delta EATS project coordinator for DHA. “The idea is to provide a new food source for the community with this garden through a ‘you-pick’ operation with the help of the Ward Three neighborhood association.”

The greenhouse will now also serve as a hub for seed plants that will be transferred to the other gardens overseen through the Delta EATS program. 

The Leland neighborhood garden will begin this fall and winter with vegetables such as sweet potatoes, greens and kale and then transition into a summer garden this spring, said Betz. “During that time, we will tighten up our relationships within the community and keep it going.”

Delta EATS, or Edible Agriculture Teaching Students – a network of school and community gardens supported by DHA – has developed a community food strategy with four primary goals:

  • To meet the food needs an increase self-reliance of low-income families.
  • To improve coordination and distribution between agricultural and commercial food sectors.
  • To create innovative marketing activities that benefit farmers, producers and low-income residents.
  • To plan for long-term solutions and foster an interest in sustainable community-based agriculture among future generations.

The EATS program has already developed a strong foothold in the three communities it currently serves through a network of school gardens and connections with local farmers and agriculture programs. The three school gardens are located at Hollandale’s Sanders Elementary School; Shaw’s McEvans School; and Leland’s Leland Elementary School. Overseen by Betz, the program is also supported by AmeriCorps-FoodCorps members, the U.S. Department of Education, the Whole Foods/Whole Kids Foundation, the Mississippi Farm to School Network and Lowes. 

Meanwhile, the Ward Three neighborhood association continues to make its present known in the community it serves. Since forming, the association has held a clean-up day in Downtown Leland, sponsored a run in Hollandale with the help of DHA and the Hollandale Rotary Club, participated in Breast Cancer Awareness Week, and will hold a Christmas canned food drive for the elderly.

“DHA has been so awesome with helping us with our neighborhood association,” said Christina. “They supplied breakfast before our cleanup and trash bags and gloves and equipment. They are so committed to this community and the residents who live here.”