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Art Museum Grows Learning Opportunities in Garden



The Mississippi Museum of Art in Jackson, Mississippi opened The Payton CityFarm Learning Garden in June. The museum created this garden as an educational tool for Mississippi students and as a fresh option for the museum’s chef in the kitchen. The urban garden is located on the museum grounds, dedicated in memory of Alyne Payton by Merry Walker Dougherty and Katie Walker McBrayer, and funded in part by the Whole Kids Foundation, and The Partnership for a Healthy Mississippi.  

The Mississippi Museum of Art is using the garden as an outdoor classroom for Mississippi students, where they can learn about nutrition, sustainability, and culinary arts. “The Payton CityFarm Learning Garden is all about reinvigorating old habits of interacting with the soil,” said the museum’s chef, Nick Wallace. “I try to be both a leader in the kitchen and a mentor for the next crop of culinarians, and this plot of farm land in the city will help encourage young students to think about preservation and cultivation in their own backyards.” 

“Gardening and cooking are core to Mississippi culture,” said museum education staff, Daniel Johnson. “It is only fitting that they become a key part of our studio activities and a lens through which to consider our collection.” 

The Director of the Mississippi Museum of Art, Betsy Bradley, said art is in the world around us as well as in their collection. “This garden, thriving in the heart of downtown Jackson, is symbolic of this inclusivity. It will allow museum educators to forge new connections between the physical Mississippi earth and the significant objects that we preserve and exhibit, creating meaningful possibilities for deeper appreciation of what art means to the state.” 

Sandra Shelson, the executive director of The Partnership for a Healthy Mississippi, said this partnership with the museum’s garden has been a unique opportunity to help students understand where their food comes from, the importance of supporting local farmers and eating locally grown food. 

To learn more about The Payton CityFarm Learning Garden, visit the museum’s website