A garden full of flowers, sweet basil, peppers and cucumbers is growing at Frank Berry Courts in Meridian, thanks to the hard work of some local teenagers.
“Our freedom fellows are getting the opportunity to come out here and contribute to the community...this is all about teaching them how to give back,” said Adrian Cross, executive director of the Meridian Freedom Project, a mentorship program that focuses on empowering young people and developing future leaders.
The MFP is using a $22,000 grant from National Geographic to create a community garden at The Frank Berry Courts Envision Center. The grant, which aims to address food insecurity, covers a service-learning project consisting of six community gardens throughout the city.
According to Cross, the fellows are tasked with the entire project: building the raised beds, spreading the dirt and planting the fruits, vegetables and herbs.
Aiden Conley was one of many young people working on the garden at on Friday.
“I wanted to learn how to garden because I'd never really done it,” said Conley, a first-year freedom fellow. "It looked like it would pretty fun.”
Jakaayla Harris echoed those sentiments.
“I'm actually excited to plant some flowers," she said. "That's why I came.”
Looking ahead, the residents at Frank Berry Courts will maintain the garden as it grows, said Gretchen Luvene, the coordinator at the Meridian Housing Authority's Envision Center .
“The families will take care of the garden and reap the benefits for their families,” she said.