For a produce vendor, you may think a slow start to a season would worry their bottom line. Not Doris Berry. Call it the law of averages, but after over six decades, she’s optimistic for 2013 at the old Mississippi Farmer’s Market off West Street. Open 7 days a week, Berry features Mississippi-grown produce and plants raised, for the most part, just south of Jackson in Simpson County.

Rain and much colder than average temperatures have slowed the harvest of local produce, causing Berry’s crops to come from neighboring states. “Until ours comes in, we bring it in,” she said. Strategic relationships with growers help to keep prices down. “(Local) people can’t plant this early. And it’s been hard on the ones who did.”

What are the best sellers so far? Tom Jackson’s green house tomatoes grown in dirt in Bassfield are hot right now. The Berry’s farm between Pinola and New Herbon provides sweet potatoes and plants. Squash, she told us, should be sprouting this week. Louisiana strawberries, usually in through the first week of May, are almost done for this season.

Berry continues to speak optimistically about their business, 64 years strong in the same spot. “You never know until that time comes, but we usually have good seasons,” she said. “Fondren, Belhaven and the Georgetown communities all have especially been supportive.”

Rushing | Photo: Millsaps College

Do-It-Yourself Gardening Strong in Fondren
In community gardens, participants pitch in with funds and labor and multiple families reap the harvest. Terry and Meredith Sullivan of liveRIGHTnow are doing just that with the help of friends. They recently held planting days over several Saturdays with rented tillers and friends’ efforts and say anyone can plant a garden of their own.

Felder Rushing agrees. Speaking last week at Millsaps College, Rushing, a Fondrenite and sought-after speaker and gardening expert, showed the audience how easy it is to plant in your own back – or front yard. Start small, he told us, and go slow. Rushing said “It’s not a race.” Tomatoes planted in August can still yield a harvest before the first frost.

Fellow Fondrenite and gardener Andy Young understands these principles, too. At a recent “free to all” workshop held in his front yard garden off Galloway, he said gardening should not be intimidating. “There are certain principles that, once you learn them, make gardening easy,” he said. “You start small and work your way up.”

Outside of his 250 square foot cabin off Pennsylvania Avenue, Rushing uses plastic buckets, old wash tins and tires (yes, rubber tires) to grow his own food and display some of the most beautiful plants in the neighborhood.

Believing that too many would-be gardeners are intimidated by a crush of “how-to” experts (“We are daunted, not dumb,” he says), Rushing uses an offbeat, “down home” approach rife with humorous anecdotes and garden-irreverent metaphors, zany observations, and stunning photography to help gardeners of all styles and skill levels get past his own beloved “stinkin’ rules” of horticulture.

You heard them: you can do it! Find a spot, grab a shovel, and garden. The ten day forecast shows a warming trend and not as much in the way of rain.

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