Plant-A-Home springs celebration

Ayden town manager Matt Livingston, right, presents Tyrone and Jaime Taft with a plaque honoring their land purchase through Ayden’s Plant-A-Home program.

AYDEN — From the seed of a good idea, Ayden’s Plant-a-Home program has bloomed for the town and the family of Tyrone and Jamie Taft, who became the first residents to participate in it.

Ayden’s Board of Commissioners and Housing Authority celebrated the Taft family during a special ceremony on April 1.

The Plant-A-Home program was proposed by Ayden Mayor Pro-tem Ivory Mewborn, who said the idea came as a vision from God.

In his vision, Mewborn said he saw a single mother feed her children breakfast before heading out to work. Her children pleaded with her to stay home, but the mother responded she couldn’t and held up a rent receipt. She told the children that at the end of 30 days, that rent slip would be all that she had.

“It started my brain turning. Ten to 15 years from now, that’s all she is going to have,” Mewborn said. “Why not reach out to people like that and give them an opportunity?”

That’s when Mewborn began to push for the Plant-a-Home program.

“The Plant-A-Home program offers assistance in obtaining land below tax value. I saw an opportunity to elevate living standards while turning vacant property expenses into town revenue,” Mewborn said.

“The goal is to increase community hope by planting beautiful homes as flowers where dilapidated house once sat.”

Over the years, the town has been committed to improving aesthetics and has secured Community Block Development Grants to do so. This has resulted in several vacant lots being maintained by the town. Lots have also been donated by residents for the program.

By selling the land to residents at a reduced price, the town creates more revenue from taxes and utility collections while helping families in their home-buying process.

“It helps people change their lives. It’s not only important for our citizens. It’s important for our town. The so-called American dream, a lot of people can’t afford that dream,” Mewborn said.

The program helps to bring hope to depressed neighborhoods and to inspire future generations, Mewborn said.

“Our job is to reach out and try and make things as good as we can for everyone. We’re trying to elevate everyone for them to achieve their fullest potential,” he said.

The Taft family was the first to enter the program. Like others, the Ayden natives have had a hard time finding land that is affordable. They were living at the Ayden Housing Authority as they struggled through the home-buying process.

“The process has been long and it seems like we kept coming to a dead-end especially when it comes to purchasing land,” Jamie Taft said. “It has always been either too expensive or it is not in an area that we want to raise our family.

“This opportunity could not have come at a better time because we were ready to give up on the whole home-buying process. This project is a great opportunity for us because we can stay in an area we like and as area our children are used to and comfortable with. It also gives us an opportunity to be able to afford a better life for our family.”

The program sends a message about Ayden and its commitment to its residents and families, Mayor Steve Tripp said.

“That’s what Ayden is about. Ayden is a family town,” Tripp said.

“What we are doing today says that,” he said. “Words you can speak but actions tell the story.”

Commissioners Cindy Goff and Phyliss Ross also said they were delighted with the program and hopeful for its future.

“I think its a great idea. It’s a win-win for the town and the citizens,” Goff said. “It gives people the opportunity to find a great location in town where lots have been maintained and provides affordable housing in the community.”

Ross added, “I think it’s really good for the town. It gives people less fortunate a chance to have homes. It’s really good for our town and the growth.”

There are currently six more vacant lots in the Plant-A-Home program. For more information contact Nichole Brown at 746-2021.

Contact Donna Marie Williams at