By Josh Troy
Urgent & Primary Care Clinic of Clarksdale is taking steps to give people an opportunity to improve their health by starting a community garden. The garden, called UPC Community Garden, is on the corner of Seals Avenue and Glinsey-Newson Cove, next to Clarksdale Nursing Center. Board of Supervisors President Johnny Newson, who represents District 4, owns the land and allowed the Urgent & Primary Care Clinic of Clarksdale to use the area for the garden. Dr. Mary Williams is the owner of the Urgent & Primary Care Clinic of Clarksdale, while Cassonya Lampkin is its community champion and LPN.
Lampkin said the garden helps get Urgent & Primary Care Clinic of Clarksdale out into the community and helps make the area healthier and happier. She added that Urgent & Primary Care Clinic of Clarksdale is working on the project with Partnership for a Healthier America. Clarksdale High School graduate Tyler Yarbrough is with Partnership for a Healthier America and worked with Urgent & Primary Care Clinic of Clarksdale.
“Dr. Williams wants to focus on food as medicine, showing the community that we’re here to help grow healthy foods for those who are unable to get to the grocery stores, to buy foods, to buy groceries, period,” Lampkin said. “Here, we’re going to raise these vegetables and fruits and the people here in this community can benefit from this.” There are currently four raised beds in the garden that have vegetables such as cucumbers, squash, and green beans. “Each of these beds has been donated,” Lampkin said.
UPC Community Group, New Covenant Missionary Baptist Church, Iota Delta Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha, and the local Care Station that feeds the lower income each have a raised bed.
“Whatever they want to grow, whether it’s squash, peas, green beans, onions, whatever vegetable they choose to grow is what they can grow,” Lampkin said.
The raised beds were built at Young Family Farm with the help of students from Partnership for a Healthier America, Ole Miss, and But God Ministries out of Jonestown. Lampkin represented Urgent & Primary Care Clinic of Clarksdale.
Lampkin said Angela TenBroeck will be working with the shop department at Coahoma Community College to build more raised beds for the garden.
Newson said he decided to allow Urgent & Primary Care Clinic of Clarksdale to use the land for raised beds because there was a need for vegetables.
“Due to the fact that we have a problem with the community getting fresh vegetables, I feel that this is a very needed and worthy effort right here,” he said. “This is a start to make sure that people have fresh vegetables at their disposal and we’re talking about nutrition at healthy initiative. This is one reason I’m very involved in this activity right here.”
Newson felt the four raised beds were only a beginning.
“There can be plenty of garden beds,” he said. “There is plenty of space for garden beds. As a matter of fact, we’ve got a whole lot on Martin Luther King (Boulevard) that we could utilize for garden beds. It’s just a matter of people getting involved and taking advantage of the need and the resources that we have here for them.”
Coahoma County Administrator Kim Seals agreed there was a need to advocate for healthy living.
“Mississippi is one of the most obese states that we have and I think fresh fruits and vegetables are much needed here in the Mississippi Delta because that provides healthy eating and longer living,” she said.
Lampkin said, as the UPC community champion, she is focusing on healthy food access, mental health awareness, and outdoor living family safety. She also felt the community would have more garden beds in the future.
“We’re hoping that this is just the first bed,” she said. “We wanted to get some more throughout the Clarksdale community and, hopefully, spread out into Jonestown, Friars Point, and other areas of Coahoma County.
“Food is medicine. We want to encourage everyone to look at how they prepare their foods, what foods they eat to have a happier and healthier life. There are things that we can eat that we don’t have to use as much seasoning, as much salt, as much fat in it. And, at the same time, we want to encourage the community to grow their own vegetables and look at even having a raised bed in their own backyard.”
Lampkin said that planting the four raised beds in the community garden went well.
“I enjoy what I do,” she said. “I love educating and helping people and I do hope the community sees that we are working together to make this garden come up. Again, that encourages them to start their own garden and growing healthy foods for themselves.”
Lampkin said she sent a letter of invitations to Greek organizations to plant raised beds, and more will be going out to local churches and businesses. Anyone interested in planting a raised bed may email Lampkin at email@example.com.