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‘There was nothing else to do’ — Several families using quarantine as teaching opportunity

For parents of homeschoolers, the COVID-19 quarantine has become a teaching opportunity.

Call it Horticulture 101.

Jody Cuevas had plans for a better backyard before COVID-19 created a need for stricter social distancing. So the family of five took the opportunity to work on the landscaping at their South Jackson Street home of less than a year.

“Then when the quarantine happened, there was nothing else to do,” he said. “We really started working hard on it.”

Cuevas, who is retired Air Force, grew up in Loyd Star and married Audrey, who was from Bogue Chitto. They traveled around with their two sons, Keelin and Christian, and when it came time to settle down, Cuevas brought his family home to Lincoln County.

His parents, Dennis and Joyce Cuevas, still live in Loyd Star.

Eighteen-year-old Keelin was already homeschooling with his mom because of all the military-ordered moves and Christian, 22, is completing his courses online for Copiah-Lincoln Community College since the outbreak closed the campus.

Both were home, ready and able to get dirty.

Their dad hired someone to take out 18 pine trees, which cleared an area for three large raised beds and a watermelon patch.

They’ll eventually add a quail run in the back corner of the fenced acre lot.

The raised beds are framed with cross ties and will contain cucumbers, five kinds of tomatoes, squash, beans and whatever else Cuevas takes a liking to.

“We want to be able to help feed ourselves if we have to,” he said.

The Cuevases aren’t the only ones using the quarantine time to garden and beautify.

Donna Case at Buds & Blooms Greenhouse & Gardens said business picked up shortly after the Mississippi State Department of Health suggested people should stay home if possible.

With all that free time on their hands, many wanted to get them dirty.

“Last week, we had a really good week because people were seeing what was coming,” she said.

She’s happy to see younger generations getting involved in the yard work with their parents.

“That can plant seeds for them to cultivate an interest in gardening. That’s a win-win,” she said.

Earlier this week, Case went to pickup only for the nursery to uphold the governor’s social distancing recommendations.

They started photographing everything and posting photos on Facebook that gives names and prices of items. Many of her customers may know what they normally buy by sight, but not by name.

“They can actually sit in their living rooms, shop online and write down what they need,” she said.

Customers call ahead — 601-835-1332 or 601-757-0804 — and make an order. Case or her staff will pull the order, call back for a payment through debit or credit card, Apple Pay or Google Pay and set an appointment for pickup. When the customer arrives, a greeter meets them then brings the order to their vehicle to load it.

“Nobody has to touch anything,” she said.

The new system seems to be working.

“We’re so thankful for everybody’s support. This is seasonal business and this is our main time. It’s hurtful, but we’re just humbled at the same time that people are calling and placing orders. They’re not frustrated that we’re doing this. They’re thankful for it.”

The nursery is open Monday through Saturday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

“We just want everybody to be safe,” she said. “We’re all going through this and we’re all going to get through it, with God we’re going to move through it.”