Story by Alana Norris
Photos by Courtland Wells
God and gardening come together in a unique way to give the Boyd family a few life lessons.
The family of 13 have a garden on their property in Bolton where they grow vegetables year-round. Brussel sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, greens, potatoes, corn, peas, tomatoes, snap beans, cucumbers, peppers, eggplant and more, fill the lot during different seasons.
“We do just about every type of vegetable that is commonplace in Mississippi,” patriarch Dr. Coleman Boyd said, adding as the family has grown, so has the garden.
He said the family has several reasons why they started their garden. Basically, he said, vegetables are a healthy choice for meals and growing them is a fun activity for the family, but the biggest reason is because it is Biblical.
“The Lord talks about in the Bible that the kingdom of God is like a man sowing seeds. There are so many things from growing in the garden that God wants to teach us about our lives and the way he wants to work in our life. That is the primary purpose of what we’re doing,” Boyd said. “Our heart in it is to raise up our children to know the Lord.”
In addition to providing good food for the family, the garden also provides homegrown food to the community. The family sells their harvests at the Vicksburg and the Madison farmers markets from May to July. This meets some of Boyd’s secondary goals of teaching his children practical life lessons like interacting with people, managing money and service to others.
“They’re basically learning we are here to take care of this customer and to make things good for them. I want them to have that heart in every aspect of life. That’s a good place for them to learn it, at the vegetable stand,” he said.
The family has had a stand at the local farmers market for the past six or seven years. He also hopes by selling the crops his children will pick up lessons of responsibility that will remain with them the rest of their life.
“We’ve got 11 kids from 14 (years) down to 8 months,” he said. “They all have different amounts of responsibilities depending on their age. They’re all learning different responsibilities whether it be in the growing or we have cows we milk, we have chickens and they get the eggs.”
The family consists of Coleman, his wife, Robin, and their children, Jonah, 14; Noah, 12; Nehemiah, 11; Annah, 10; Elijah, 8; Selah, 6; Judah, 4; Aliyah, 2; Obadiah, 1; Moriah, 1; Uriah, 8 months. Three of the 11 children are adopted. Robin homeschools the children, and Coleman is an ER doctor.
“We’ve got four kids 2 and under so it’s been a hectic year,” he said, adding the family recently remodeled their house as well.
Jonah said each child doesn’t have a specific job when it comes to tending to the garden, but instead everyone helps out along the way by doing what needs to be done. Sometimes they will hire the neighbor’s children to help with the gardening.
“We work diligently, as quick as we can, and try to do our best at it,” he said.
Jonah said he has learned a lot from the experience in addition to the enjoyment of spending time outside. Even though the Mississippi summers can be rough, he enjoys the hard work.
“It definitely is a life lesson of just trying to set a good example. Mainly being diligent, endurance and things like that,” he said. “It has been a good life lesson and training process.”
When the family comes to Vicksburg to participate in the market, they leave their home at 6 a.m. making for an early morning. The group sometimes sets up two tents depending on how much product they have and enjoy interacting with people who come to see what they are selling. After a few hours of business, the family packs up and goes to lunch together. The children get to keep what they make from selling the produce.
“We all split it up evenly. We put it in one account, and we all get it as me need it,” Jonah said. “We put whatever we need back into the farm account to buy more supplies for the next year. We save some, and we spend some.”
Once the summer market season is complete, Coleman Boyd said the family continues growing food and gives away their product to those interested.
“We’re doing all this hopefully to build the character of our children to grow up to be young men and women who have a heart for Him,” he said.