Written by Christine Bell, WhyHunger Intern
This post is part of WhyHunger’s Peer Mentor profile series for the “Community Learning Project for Food Justice” (CLP). Each week through April 2012, we’ll highlight a new CLP Peer Mentor and their contribution to creating a national learning/teaching community to support the growth and expansion of the food justice movement.
In church, school, and backyards across the Mississippi Delta, community gardens are bringing people together, providing access to healthy, fresh produce, helping improve the economy, and inspiring residents to reconnect and reclaim their culinary roots. At the forefront of the revival is Mississippians Engaged in Greener Agriculture (MEGA). Focusing on the needs of under-served and limited resource farmers, MEGA helps new farmers, backyard gardeners, as well as seasoned conventional farmers develop the knowledge, skills, and practices they need to develop small-scale, high-yielding, organic farms whether on a quarter lot in their backyard or in a 7 acre field.
Many of the Mississippi Delta’s older residents grew up working on sharecropper farms and had little to zero interest in returning to any sort of farming. But MEGA co-founder, Dorothy Grady-Scarbrough of Shelby, MS , who is also a registered nurse for the Coahoma County School System, realized that by growing small backyard gardens residents would not only save money by producing their own fruits and vegetables, but they could also combat the high level of diet-related illnesses in the region by changing their eating habits. So she helped launch MEGA as way of educating potential farmers while making the connections between diet-related illnesses and the importance of knowing where and how our food is grown.
MEGA is a founding member of the Delta Fresh Foods Initiative, a diverse coalition of community stakeholders committed to establishing sustainable, equitable community food systems in the Mississippi Delta, and was the first designated Regional Outreach Training Center for Growing Power, a national organization teaching people innovative intensive farming techniques for small and urban farms.
WhyHunger is proud to be working with the Mississippians Engaged in Greener Agriculture (MEGA) as one of 15 peer mentors participating in the www.. www. to learn more about the Community Learning Project for Food Justice and this year’s crop of peer mentors.