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St. Peter’s youth garden a teaching tool

The rows are a little bare right now, but the harvest on one side of the garden of James “June” Wilbert, Sr. on Perrett Road, Hazlehurst should be bountiful by mid-September. The garden will be tended by youth from St. Peter’s Church, making the work the first done by the youth.

Wilbert tilled and planted the rows a few weeks ago to give the youngsters a hand. “They will be doing all the work once it all starts growing, though,” Wilbert explained. He is working with St. Peters’ pastor Christopher Taylor to provide guidance to and teach the youth about perseverance, patience and hard work. The youth will meet at the garden at least once a week until harvest time, then much more as the vegetables ripen.

“This is the first time we’ve done this,” said Taylor, who has been at the Whitworth Street church for about a year. “We believe this experience will be an extremely positive influence on these young men–one they will take with them the rest of their lives,” he added.

“I am looking forward to tending the garden,” said Timothy Smith in the garden last Tuesday, one of the youth on the detail. “The hard work makes me feel good about myself and that I accomplish something,” he added.

Tregdrick Smith, who is a couple of years younger than Timothy, agreed. “This is the first time I’ve ever done anything like this. I’m really thankful for this place and for Mr. Wilbert,” Tregdrick explained.

Melvin Wiley, Jr. is the other youth working Wilbert’s garden this summer, though he was not available for comment.

The trio will be raising sweet potatoes, peas, butter beans, peanuts, okra and cucumbers. At harvest time in about three months, they will haul their crops to Copiah County Farmers Market in Hazlehurst for a shot at learning how to wheel and deal, and how to handle customers properly.

“I think its a good thing for the kids,” Wilbert added, “I’ve been doing this all my life. My children worked with me everyday in the field, and they still come around to help out when they can. I want these young men to know how hard work, persistence and patience pay off,” Wilbert said.

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