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Leadership Lafayette Promotes Hands-On Learning through Garden Projects

Members of the Chamber of Commerce’s 2023 Leadership Lafayette class took part in organizing educational pollinator and vegetable gardens in partnership with local schools, student clubs, and community businesses to encourage beautification and well-being for both the environment and in their daily lives.

“Our mission was to create a cosmetic, functional space and natural habitat to unify the community and better the local environment,” said Project Manager Briana Murphree. “Creating an educational impact was a high priority for our group, which is why we wanted to partner with schools and/or student groups.”

After doing research with group member Don Jones at Northwest Community College and their pollinator gardens, we realized the need for building natural pollinator habitats in our community.

Based on findings from Len Lawhorn, the NWCC campus horticulturalist, the group learned that insects, including honeybees, butterflies, and moths, are responsible for at least one out of every three bites of food we eat, which is more the 35%.

Over 90 different varieties of fruits, vegetables and essential crops like alfalfa and hay for our meat and dairy industries depend on pollinating insects for survival.

The group partnered with Lafayette Upper Elementary School’s Quest Program to implement their first pollinator garden. The group had a planting day with LUES students in the spring and was able to create a more tranquil outdoor space for the students to begin a curriculum around.

“This pollinator garden will allow the students to really understand the life cycle of bees, butterflies, and plants and how they all work together. It also allowed beautification of our common space and now students have something pretty to look at as they walk by,” said Principal Janine Lee.

LUES has kicked off the new school year with a curriculum built around their garden within their science department, as well as their QUEST program for third through sixth graders.

The group dedicated the garden on Tuesday, Aug. 22, and members of the Lafayette Leadership group, Chamber of Commerce, and Lafayette Elementary Upper School, as well as community sponsors from Barnes Trading Company, The Original Grit Girl, Daisy Gift Company/Lulus of Oxford, Tannehill and Carmean and Trustmark Bank.

Members of the group also partnered with The Boys and Girls Club in hopes of providing some educational elements to the students there. They were able to acquire resources and materials through community partners such as Lilly Farm and Supply, Olin Winchester, and Matthews Real Estate and held a planting day with a group of students on June 16, 2023.

The Boys and Girls Club requested a mixture of vegetable and pollinator plants, so the group worked with Harris Family Farms in Water Valley to provide the club with organic plants that have shown fruitful harvest over the summer.

The Community Garden of Oxford Association will assist in the maintenance of the garden moving forward. The group is working with the Boys & Girls Club Board of Trustees and are still looking for community partners to provide educational resources around the garden to the club after school.

Members of the Leadership Lafayette group are:

  • Zach Booner, Tannehill & Carmean 
  • Courtney Carlton, The Algernon Sydney Sullivan Foundation 
  • Ambry Coleman, Trustmark Bank 
  • Avery Davis, Daisy Gift Company
  • Don Jones, Northwest Community College 
  • Jason List, The Firm 
  • Briana Murphree, University of MS 

If you have any suggestions or recommendations, contact Courtney Carlton at Courtneyscarlton@gmail.com or Frank Dyer on the Boys and Girls Club Board of Trustees.

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