- Associated Press - Monday, March 14, 2016

OXFORD, Miss. (AP) - Prepare for an aroma of herbs while viewing sculptures this spring at Yoknapatawpha Arts Council’s garden.

Fiskars’ Project Orange Thumb awarded 30 community gardens cash and new tools to improve neighborhoods, and $3,500 is headed to Oxford.

More than 400 applications were received, and a board of garden bloggers and experts helped determine the winners.

“YAC stood out in particular against other applicants largely because of their desire to expand on their current educational programming,” said Fiskars’ spokeswoman Jane Hanneman. “With a grant from Fiskars’ Project Orange Thumb, YAC plans to create an urban garden to foster dialogue around sustainable agricultural practices, all while educating the public. In addition, they hope that the food-producing garden will be able to offer a contribution to the food program at a local Montessori school.”

Wayne Andrews, executive director of YAC, on the grant application, said: “Mississippi’s adult population is challenged with high rates of obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure. In an effort to combat these issues and a general lack of knowledge about food production, the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council created its Powerhouse Greenspace, a natural and artful escape in an urban environment. With their Fiskars Project Orange Thumb grant, The Arts Council will expand the current programming offered through the greenspace by creating an urban garden. This garden will create a dialogue about sustainable foods and agriculture in the community and help connect diverse communities through food with the overarching goal of improving the health of the community and beyond.”

The garden will be one people can touch, smell and observe herbs and more while surrounded by sculpture.

“We plan to do more work on the sculpture area out front to enclose the space and create features that offer both attractive plantings and urban garden features,” he said. “The idea came from a project we had discussed with a community partner to expand our educational and outreach efforts that would connect art, food and education. The sculpture area has been a wonderful addition to the Powerhouse.”

Andrews also hopes the changes will bring in more residents and visitors to the Powerhouse and Sculpture Trail.

“It is going to be in that area where the sculpture garden is so we have this actual garden that people can touch, smell and observe while surrounded by sculpture,” he said. “We think of food as part of art - food traditional are connected to communities and help to tell stories - so we want to create something that connects people to the different programs while offering expanded education programs.”

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Information from: Oxford Eagle, https://www.oxfordeagle.com


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