Jesse Gates Edible Forest Work Days

My church is helping transform an empty lot into an edible forest.

Here is some background information:

“The Jesse Gates Edible Forest at Wells Church came into being when two dreams met at the corner of Bailey Avenue and Idlewild Street in Jackson. In 2009, Wells Church acquired the property, concerned that the vacant house might become a source of trouble. Our dream was to replace the building with a garden that could be enjoyed by the neighborhood.

Children attending Galloway Elementary School walk past the house twice a day, and middle-schoolers stand in the front yard every morning waiting for the bus. Having that old vacant house right there didn’t seem like a good idea. We tore down the house and planted a lawn to provide some “green space” while we considered ideas for turning the lot into an appealing garden.

Then, we heard about the Mississippi Urban Forest Council, an organization aimed at promoting quality urban and community forestry in Mississippi. One of their goals was the establishment of a model “edible forest” to encourage the development of local orchards and vegetable sites and community gardens as one way to improve the health and welfare of Mississippians.

With help from the Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce, our dream of a welcoming garden and the council’s dream of a model “edible forest” came together at the corner of Bailey and Idlewild. And the work began.

The mission of the project includes providing a model for growing local sources of fruits and vegetables, encouraging individual healthy eating and providing alternative sources of income by growing local produce.

The “Edible Forest” includes 26 fruit trees and multiple herbs and vegetables. It will be managed by local volunteers.

Part of the project includes community and citizen education regarding which edible plants can be grown locally for fresh produce. If you would like to be included in this information please send your email to the Mississippi Urban Forest Council at

Shortly after work on the project began, we tragically lost one of our own young persons, Jesse Allen Gates, a talented musician and artist. Our Council and Board voted unanimously to dedicate this Edible Forest in his memory.

We invite you to drop by and visit the Jesse Gates Edible Forest at Wells Church, then contact the Mississippi Urban Forest Council for advice on how to develop one for your community.”

Richard and I are helping to document the transformation. We are getting help from lots of people, including the students who participate in after school programs at Operation Shoestring.

Here are some photographs we took at two work days:

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