Growing a Healthy Mulberry was initiated by Mayor Gary Baxter in 2016 after joining the Arkansas Coalition for Obesity Prevention and participating in the education program Mayors Mentoring Mayors.
Baxter initiated a series of community discussion and planning sessions and, with the assistance of AHD/HHI, explored data and determined the need of addressing food insecurity in the county. This originated the idea of the Community Garden.
At the end of 2016, Mulberry/Pleasant View School District agriculture teacher Frances Sawrie was approached about the concept by some of the coalition members. She agreed with the support of the district and school board to assume the role of chair for the coalition.
On Jan. 19, 2017, the first meeting of Growing a Healthy Mulberry under new leadership occurred.
Superintendent Dr. Lonnie Myers said the meeting identified the desire to partner students with seniors to address food insecurity, address the food needs of homebound seniors, involve seniors in the city parks and to improve the aesthetics of downtown Mulberry through youth involvement.
As a result of support and leadership from the Mulberry/Pleasant View School District and community volunteers, the students built raised beds to create a community garden, the City of Mulberry installed water for the garden, a private business in town donated the use of the land for the garden and the youth and volunteers work the garden and supply the Senior Activity Center with fresh produce for participants at the facility and delivery to homebound seniors through the Meals on Wheels program.
To date, the garden has provided 160 pounds of food for citizens of Mulberry, Myer said.
“Through the generosity and servant spirit of the Mulberry/Pleasant View School District the students have also been able to participate in statewide events which showcase these accomplishments,” Myers aid. “Arkansas Coalition for Obesity Prevention has designated Growing a Healthy Mulberry as a model program to increase access to healthy foods, access to physical activity and worksite wellness.”