Garden contestants were from all over the Mississippi Delta and ranged from schools, community groups, and church groups and youth groups.
"Anyone was eligible that had any size garden. In order to qualify, the garden had to be maintained by three or more people and it could have been a church, community, or school garden. Everyone who applied this year already had previously established gardens. We had a total of 12 participants," said Project Manager Leslie Johnson.
First prize winners were given $1,000 and it could be used to purchase supplies or gardening equipment and second place winners received $750 that could be used for gardening equipment and supplies.
Samuel Chapel United Methodist Church in Itta Bena won first place and the Right Strides Community Garden of Coffeeville won second place.
The winners are set to be recognized and featured in a slideshow during Delta Fresh Foods Initiative third Annual Harvest Celebration and Awards Gala in Clarksdale on Thursday.
A network of church, community, school, and youth groups were few and contestants were judged on workshop participation, community awareness and involvement, youth participation, maintenance and sustainable practices, variety of produce and suitability of the plantings.
"The purpose of the competition is to promote and encourage vegetable and herb gardening. There are so many people who have or are shying away from growing their own vegetables. The art is slowly fading away and we want to encourage younger generations to get into gardening. Most children and adults go to the grocery store and purchase fruits, but it is more costly and it is not as healthy. We are just trying to keep this art going and promote it to people who are interested," said Johnson.
Design and total visual effect were also taken into account with extra points awarded for creativity and ingenuity.
Contestants were also judged on workshop participation.
"We had workshops at various gardening sites. We even had workshops at three of the participants' gardens. The whole point of the experience was to have workshops at each of the participants' gardens because they all were so different and we want to highlight the variances. We want all of the contestants and all of the members to see different ways that people have their garden set up," added Johnson.
There were a total of three workshops held during the entire competition.
Samuel Chapel United Methodist Church, Right Strides Community Garden, and Brooks Elementary School Garden, all received perfect attendance for the workshops and were given $400 gift cards to purchase additional supplies for their garden.
Delta State University Wiley Community Garden, Mississippians Engaged in Greener Agriculture of Shelby and Sacred Heart Catholic Church of Greenville attended two of the three workshops and received a $200 gift card.