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COOK/Residents grow food and herbs for fun
By ANGIE GRIFFING
Wednesday, July 3, 2013 1:00 AM
Among members of the Neshoba County Nursing Home’s Garden Club are, front row, from left, Ayla, Stacy Cook and Holly Stevens. In back are Lois Grantham, Judy Savell, Mavis Johnson, Earsel Chisolm and Bobbie Triplett.
In late January, long before the last frost of the season, seeds were planted with tender hands and warm hearts in pots meticulously painted and decorated by residents at the Neshoba County Nursing Home.
With great anticipation, Stacy Cook, the nursing home's animal assisted therapy coordinator, along with a small group of residents, began watching and waiting for the seeds to break forth from the soil. Now those seeds have become the residents' first garden.
Even through the frost and snow, the newly sprouted plants not only survived, but thrived.
Stacy was surprised the plants made it through the snow. She asked some of the residents how it was possible the snow and frost did not kill the young plants. She was met with a resounding: "It's the love in our group and in our nursing home making them live."
Through the glass windows, the residents can see the fruits of their labor blossoming and growing in the courtyard of the nursing home.
Every morning, Cook arrives early to pull weeds, water and hoe the garden.
"Once the garden began growing, residents, who rarely came out of their rooms, began coming to see and offer advice about the garden," she said.
As excitement grew amongst the residents, so too, did the garden.
What started as a small idea has literally grown into 40 tomato plants, 20 herb plants, squash, zucchini, cucumbers, okra and eggplant.
Just as the garden has grown, so has the group doing the gardening, who now refer to themselves as the Neshoba County Nursing Home Garden Club.
The original seven has blossomed into over 20 residents.
When Stacy asked the garden club members what they would do with all of their vegetables grown from the garden, several replied in unison, "We're going to eat it all!"
Discussions later led to residents compiling their vegetable recipes in a cookbook along with their favorite old time remedies.
In addition to the vegetables and herbs garden, the residents have a section of the courtyard called the pass-a-long garden. Clippings of plants from friends and family are planted in the garden.
Stacy and the residents have additional plans for the courtyard, which is unaccessible to many of them. Residents on walkers or those confined to wheel chairs can only enjoy the garden through the windows. Stacy wants to raise enough money to put in a sidewalk and more raised beds so that all of the residents can enjoy the gardening experience.
Stacy built the raised beds in the garden utilizing donated pallets for the wood. Recently, she applied for a community outreach grant that will benefit the residents and their garden.
The cookbooks are being sold at the Neshoba County Nursing Home for $5. All proceeds from the cookbook sales will go directly back to the improvements in the residents' garden.
The excited residents, after months of waiting, finally got to enjoy the homegrown goodness of their garden on Thursday of last week with a sandwich social featuring tomatoes started from seed and planted by their hands.
If you are interested in purchasing a cookbook or donating to the pass-a-long garden, you may contact Stacy at 601-575-0249.
Here are a few of the residents' recipes.
FRESH GARDEN SALSA
10 ripe tomatoes
4 mild onions
2 jalapeno peppers
2 yellow banana peppers
1 cup fresh cilantro
2 fresh garlic cloves
1 cup white vinegar
6 teaspoons garlic salt
2 teaspoons black pepper
4 green chilies
Use a sharp knife to core and seed all vegetables. Mix with the vinegar and spices. Place in a gallon jar. Cover and refrigerate before serving.
Marinated Tomato and Cucumber Salad
5-6 ripe tomatoes, peeled and chopped
4 cucumbers, sliced
1 purple onion
1/2 cup olive oil
4 tablespoons vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
fresh basil, as desired
Mix all together and marinate overnight. Serve cold.
- Willie Gail Harrison
4-6 green tomatoes, sliced thin
1/2 cup flour
3/4 cup cornmeal
salt and pepper to taste
Mix flour, cornmeal, salt and pepper in a brown paper bag. Add tomatoes and shake. Deep fry in cast iron skillet until brown and crisp. Remove and place on paper a layer at a time.
- Earsel Chisolm
Fried squash patties
6-8 squash, sliced and boiled until tender
1 onion, chopped fine and sauteed in skillet until clear
salt and pepper
4-6 tablespoons cornmeal
Mix all ingredients. Shape into patties. Fry in hot skillet until brown in both sides.
- Mavis Johnson
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