Children, youth, and adults will reap the benefits of a new Learning Garden developed by the DeSoto County Masters Gardeners Association.  The Community Foundation of Northwest Mississippi, through two childhood obesity prevention grants, made the formal presentation of the $10,000 to the association on June 12.  The grants were made possible through Healthy Kids Healthy Communities and the Northwest Mississippi Health Council. 

“As the Project Director for Healthy Kids Healthy Communities, we have focused this four-year program on healthy eating and active living”, stated Peggy Linton.  “The Learning Garden has both components and will bring together youth and adults in a learning and fun environment.  We are proud to partner with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (Healthy Kids Healthy Communities) and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation (Northwest MS Health Council) to make projects like this possible.” (Linton)

The construction of the Learning Garden has begun with the installation of raised beds on a site on the county property just north of the Mississippi State University Extension office at 3260 U.A. 61 South in Hernando.  Money raised in addition to the $10,000 in grant funds will see a completed project with vegetables, annuals, native trees and shrubs, and an outdoor classroom.  The goal is to create a demonstration garden to teach the community how to include both vegetables and ornamental plants into an attractive landscape, grow food for themselves in home gardens, and incorporate opportunities for youths to develop a love for gardening. 

“We are so pleased to receive these grants from the Community Foundation’s Regional Health Council and Healthy Kids Healthy Communities”, said Bettie Pruitt, DeSoto County Master Gardeners.  “It came just in time for our annual Plant Camp where, for a week, we get to play with about 30 children learning how to plant veggies such as green beans, tomatoes, and eggplants.  Our hope is that children and parents will visit the garden often to see what is growing and learn how to grow their own home gardens”.

The Community Foundation began its program to prevent childhood obesity in 2005.  With the establishment of Community Health Councils and a Regional Health Council, policy and environmental changes are being made on the local level throughout the service area that lead to healthy eating and active living.   “The grants to this organization help the Foundation in its goal of reducing childhood obesity while assisting the youth of DeSoto County”, stated George P. Cossar, III, Chairman of the Community Foundation.  “I am very pleased that the Foundation will have the opportunity to work with the DeSoto County Master Gardeners.”

The Community Foundation manages 133 donor-established funds and has distributed $11.2 million to support 420 charitable organizations and activities recommended by its donors, as well as charitable programs established by the foundation.  Established in 2002 with a generous grant from the Maddox Foundation, the Community Foundation is an independent 501.c.3 charitable organization. The Foundation serves Bolivar, Coahoma, DeSoto, Marshall, Panola, Quitman, Sunflower, Tallahatchie, Tate, and Tunica counties.  A board of 20 volunteer civic leaders governs the Community Foundation.  Learn more about the Community Foundation at or call 662.449.5002.