Dorothy Grady-Scarbrough
Mississippians Engaged in Greener Agriculture (MEGA)
Shelby, Miss.

The Mississippi Delta is famous for its rich farmland. But, ironically enough, the region has one of the nation’s highest concentrations of food deserts. (On the whole, Mississippi has the highest rate of food insecurity in the country.) Since 1999, Grady-Scarbrough’s nonprofit has schooled her Shelby community — and beyond — about best farming practices in the Delta.

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“When we initially started doing this work, there was not a farmers market in a 50-mile radius,” she says. MEGA conducts farmer training in a cluster of trailers that used to be a Head Start site. Trainees — which now include Food Corps volunteers from across the South — learn ecologically sound agricultural skills like greenhouse construction, composting, and building soil fertility. Grady-Scarbrough also started a program to supply 50 low-income families with a weekly CSA share at 40 percent of its normal cost.

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“I decided to start working with backyard gardeners initially, trying to get people involved in growing their own food, and working with small, limited-resource farmers,” says Grady-Scarbrough. “From that particular piece of the project, it grew into going into our schools and churches as well.”

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