From Vegetables to Medicine

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Small farmers in the Delta traditionally plant  regional crops: squash, sweet potatoes, greens, and zucchini. These crops have been the staple for many soul food dinners. However, Mr. Frank is healing the body and the soul by taking his planting one step further: growing Echinacea.

Echinacea is a flower used to create medicinal herbs and teas. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, Echinacea was once known as a Native American “cure-all”.Now, Echinacea is now commonly used for fevers, chills, and aches and pains. This project was made possible by a grant from the United States Department of Agriculture and the Cooperative State Research Education and Extension Service (CSREES—now known as the National Institute of Food and Agriculture).

We went out to talk to Mr. Frank, a man I had heard so many positive things about from the residents of Marks, MS. We found Mr. Frank doing what comes naturally for him: tending to his crops. This short-stature, fairly dark complexioned man with a straw brim hat and shades that concealed his eyes, told us the secret to his success: “I have never had a failed crop. You know why? Because I get out here and work!” His work speaks for itself. One could easily see the many rows of fresh vegetables and Echinacea cropping up, despite the rainy season that has left many farmers little opportunity to grow anything.

Mr. Frank serves a reminder of the richness and the sweetness of the Delta soil. Congrats to Mr. Frank for pushing the boundary and raising the bar.

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Submitted by: Hope Crenshaw

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