News Flash

City News Stories

Posted on: October 15, 2019

Group turning vacant Jackson lots into gardens for youth programs


They were once just empty lots on the city’s south side where houses used to stand.

While some may have seen urban emptiness, Diane Washington saw opportunity.

“We’ve had so many people stop by and tell us that it really looks nice and they appreciate us being here. It’s very gratifying,” Washington said.

Instead of weeds, tall grass and trash, hope now grows on the two vacant lots at the corner of Maple Avenue and Rockwell Street in the form of flowers, plants and vegetables.

“We are using this for community and neighborhood revitalization, focusing on making beautiful spaces for our community, including youth development, nutrition, gardening, and all those types of things,” Washington said.

Washington is the founder and executive director of YPOP, which stands for Young People of Purpose.

She says their goal is to empower youth to succeed through quality educational programming and creative opportunities.

YPOP is comprised of local youth from Kindergarten to 12th grade that participate in free summer and after school programming.

Special educational sessions are also offered for adults and youth.

Over the past two years, a big part of YPOP’s programs have centered around working in gardens on the empty lots.

Washington says while kids are learning hands-on skills through gardening and growing vegetables, she also hopes life lessons will sprout from the lots.

“I want them to learn to appreciate their environment and appreciate something they’ve been a part of and taking ownership over something they’ve done,” Washington said.

Earlier this year, YPOP finalized the purchases of the vacant lots from the City of Jackson.

“We appreciate the City of Jackson for allowing the residents to use these lots for wonderful purposes,” Washington said.

With vacant lots dotting Jackson’s landscape, Washington is satisfied her group is doing something positive for the city, and hopes this positivity will spread to other neighborhoods.

“I believe it does make the city better, and it has made the city better. It’s kind of contagious too. When people see something, that might inspire somebody else to do something, and add to their property. We want to make our community better,” Washington said.

Washington says YPOP is currently focused on these two lots, but could spread the joy to other vacant lots in the future.

Watch the video below to see a video version of this story. 

Facebook Twitter Email

Other News in City News Stories

census 2

Be Counted in the 2020 U.S. Census!

Posted on: April 1, 2020
Leaf vacuum equipment gets ready to suck up a pile of leaves

Loose leaf collection update

Posted on: March 6, 2020
Image of Mayor Dobies standing and speaking at the State of the city event.

Watch the 2020 State of the City Address

Posted on: February 28, 2020
Jackson City Council 2-25-20 meeting

Jackson City Council Feb. 25, 2020 meeting

Posted on: February 25, 2020
the city council chambers full of people for a city council meeting

Jackson City Council Feb. 11, 2020 meeting

Posted on: February 11, 2020
City Hall winter spring

City of Jackson warns of email scam

Posted on: February 4, 2020