Poppy Project seeks funding

Published 12:01 am Monday, June 4, 2018

NATCHEZ — After seven years of making Natchez a little more beautiful, Greg Brooking said he wants to expand his poppy garden even more. 

“I started this because I like it, because I think it’s beautiful,” Brooking said. “Other people think it’s beautiful, too, and it’s growing.”

Brooking began the Natchez Poppy Project, wherein he and others have planted poppies along the Natchez riverfront, in 2011 with approximately 17 million poppy seeds.

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Some years have not fared as well as others, with the threat of rising waters or mowers dampening the bright red bloom of the poppy, but this year, Brookings said the flowers down on Silver Street were just beautiful.

So far, Brooking has purchased all the seeds necessary to decorate the riverfront in the blooms, but this year Brooking began a GoFundMe account in early May to help fund future poppy fields.

“I just put that in I wondered if enough people liked the poppies that they would help me plant them,” Brooking said. “Google poppies in Natchez, you’ll be amazed at what comes up.”

Planting the poppies each year, Brooking said, costs $1,500 to $2,000. The seeds, he said, only cost approximately $500, but the maintenance and fertilizer — including someone hired to pull weeds when Brooking cannot — cost much more.

“We try to keep it pristine, you know,” he said. “We want a poppy patch not a weed patch.”

Brooking’s GoFundMe account for the Poppy Project has now raised $495 of its $5,000 goal.

All of the money, Brooking said, will be used to purchase and plant thousands of poppy seeds around Natchez.

If he reaches his goal of $5,000, Brooking said he will have enough material to plant the poppies for the next two or three years.

This year, Brookings expanded from his usual spot at Natchez Under-the-Hill to new poppy patches on U.S. 84 and U.S. 61 South.

“They were really outstanding looking,” Brooking said. “I’ve been putting them in visible areas where people can see them there’s no telling how many people come off that bridge every day.”

With more funding, Brooking said he could increase the plantings across town and in Adams County.

Though the poppy planting started simply because Brooking likes poppies, he said the flowers have now become a draw for Natchez.

Visitors love taking photos of the poppies, Brooking said, and the flowers have even been painted by regional artists.

“We need to make sure that whenever I’m gone someone else can do it,” Brooking said. “It’s just one person that does it, and I do it for Natchez.”