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Area man shares garden’s bounty with others

Sweet corn, snap beans, watermelon vines and lush tomatoes planted in neat rows the length of a football field are carefully tended behind Zack Moak’s brick farmhouse on Callender Road.

The impressive scale of the cultivation invokes the assumption that a professional horticulturist complete with at least a couple of able-bodied field hands is running the grand operation.

Although he doesn’t carry an agriculture degree from Mississippi State University, there would be little argument that Moak is a professional at what he does. And with the exception of his two “field hands” – canine companions Pat and Buddy – the 90-year-old, part-time minister tills, plants and propagates the fields on his own.

“I love to grow things. I guess it just growed into me,” he says with a smile.

Moak’s large cash crop could carry a substantial financial profit at the market, but his intentions are elsewhere. His harvest fills the pantries of his neighbor’s homes; all Moak asks is that they come out and pick the crops themselves.

His passion for gardening is equally matched by his devotion to community outreach.

In 1982 Moak decided to attend Mississippi College in Jackson to study ministry. Since then he has used his combination of spiritual and horticultural talents to tend to his community.

“I felt like that was what the Lord was calling me to do,” he says while pinching a sucker on one of his four-foot-tall tomato plants.

In particular, Moak regularly visits nursing and rest homes, where he brings an armful of fruits, vegetables and comforting ministry.

“I felt like somebody needed to go visit these old folks’ homes,” he says. “A lot of the people in there don’t have any family, and a lot of them that do, don’t come see them anyway.”

“There are some pitiful souls there,” he continued.

Moak says his ministry is mutually beneficial in more ways than one. For example, through his sharing, his bounty of blackberries is sure to be turned into a cobbler, a favorite of his.

“I tell them if I bring ’em out there I’m gonna stick around until they make me one,” he says.

Moak’s philosophy on life is one of simplicity but carries a profound wisdom.

“Being there when people need you,” he explains. “That’s the most important thing in life.”