The people of Winston County, Mississippi faced many of the same problems as other rural communities across the nation: declining population, rising prices, and family farmers in need of capital, business tools, and new markets for their products. But they were determined to overcome these challenges.
When native son Frank Taylor returned to his hometown after college he established the Winston County Self-Help Cooperative, a consortium of local farmers that pool their resources to receive training in business development, conservation, health, and other topics of concern. The Cooperative also has a youth program, which teaches vital skills to the next generation of Winston County farmers.
Meet youth program leader and “mommy, auntie, granny” Jean Harper as she shows off the youth farm run by the Cooperative, which will grow collards, cabbage, string beans, and more. Winston County Self-Help Cooperative, whose motto is “Saving Rural America,” received a Small and Socially Disadvantaged Producer Grant to expand their operations into the surrounding counties of central Mississippi. They were assisted by Kenneth Randle of the Mississippi Rural Development office.