The Union County Master Gardeners’ association currently offers to Union County: the New Albany Home and Garden Show, this year being held in downtown New Albany on April 9th; Earth day, an educational event for the young; management of the Farmers’ Market at the river; an annual plant sale; and the Junior Master Gardeners’ program, an ongoing educational program for ages 6 through 18. The Master Gardeners operate under the guidance of the Union County Extension office as a nonprofit organization.
This year they are adding another feature, called the Victory Garden. The purpose of it is educational, to the extent that the garden is open to visitors to experience the “nitty-gritty” of raising flowers, plants and vegetables. The Victory Garden will become the “project home” to our Junior Master Gardeners, and will be charitable in nature, because the yield of the garden will be directed to the most needy in the county. This garden is intended to provide opportunity to those who want to improve their diet and become self-sustaining on their own land. Leftover yield can be sold to the general public. We believe that the Victory Garden will become an Agri-tourism destination which will draw many visitors to the county. When the Victory Garden is fully developed, it will be the largest and most diverse garden in upper State of Mississippi.
Almost two acres at the intersection of Willow Street and Hwy 178 West in Myrtle, just a little West of New Albany, has been made available free of charge to the Master Gardeners for their unconditional use on a long-term basis. It will be known as the Vicki Smith Memorial Victory Garden, as Vicki was from Myrtle and loved her work with the group. This plot will be host to berries, grapes, plums, nuts, a variety of flowers and many types of vegetables as it matures over the years. The produce will not be organically certified in the beginning, but will be raised very close to those standards. All types of growing techniques, from flat land to tilled rows to raised beds to hay bales, will be featured and many unique methods will be employed. The setting will be enhanced with a variety of flowers that the Union County Master Gardeners will use to meet the many requests they receive each year to decorate stages or the Court House for Patriots’ Day. The Gardeners are just now cleaning up the site. Myrtle Chief of Police, Jim White, can be seen serving as a Friend of the Gardeners on his days off. It won’t take a lot of work if we have a lot of volunteers.
The Gardeners are 100% volunteers who go through a 40 hour instructional and educational process under the auspices of MS State University in order to be certified, as well as completing 40 hours of community service. Additionally, they make themselves available to assist the extension office in handling the large volume of questions received and to help individuals and groups with suggestions for making their garden, whether flower or vegetable, meet their expectations. Not everyone has the same interest, but if you like the feel of dirt, the smell of fresh-cut grass or first blooming flowers, you might find a home here with like-minded men and women, who meet once a month to continue their education and handle the business of the group. Or you just might want to become a Friend of the Master Gardeners to volunteer some of your time for worthy projects. If either scenario is of interest, contact Joyce Morrison, President of UCMG at (662) 538-5333.
The UCMG will need to raise $25,000 to support the Victory garden with equipment and supplies for the start-up. They will need a small tractor with some attachments, a mulching mower, compost bins, hoses, hoes, shovels, pruning shears, lumber and a wide assortment of occasional use items. Storage will be available for safe keeping on site. If you would like to help with material donations or a cash donation, or if you would like to be a Friend of the MGs for this project only, contact Joyce Morrison, President of UCMG, at (662) 538-5333 or Pat James, the Victory Garden Committee Chairman, at (662) 316-5169. Recognition will be given to all who contribute and benefactors ($2,500 or more) will have signage on the property.
Myrtle MS, New Albany MS, Union County Master Gardeners (UCMG), Victory Garden