What you need to know about Highland Park’s new Community Garden and how to secure a plot

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Fall looks good on you, Highland Park Garden. Photo via Taylor Babington for Bham Now 

I’ve been watching the construction of the Highland Park Community Garden for a while now. As a former resident of Birmingham’s Highland Park, I’m pumped to see this community garden open in one of my favorite neighborhoods.

Here’s what you need to know about it and how you can secure a plot!

The Beginnings

Tori McDonald, garden co-founder and garden committee president, said the garden started as a way to bring members of the Highland Park community together back in 2016.

Tori McDonald, garden co-founder and garden committee president, at last week’s Bark Party. Photo via Highland Park Community Garden by Chris White

“David Seamon—a pastor and the missional engagement director at Independent Presbyterian Church—started looking for ways to connect the church with the surrounding Highland Park neighborhood. He worked with Laney De Jonge, co-owner of Rojo, and neighbors like Morris Hiatt and Bob McKenna, the owner of the Clubhouse on Highland, to figure out what sort of community projects Highland Park residents were interested in seeing happen in the neighborhood.”

Tori McDonald

Highland Park is the most densely populated neighborhood in the state—this was news to me. Tori explained that Highland Park has a high number of apartments and renters, so space to grow things is something residents craved. The neighborhood first thought of planting a native plant garden in Rushton Park, but the idea quickly morphed to a community garden.

The Location

The Specs

Those raised beds just waiting to be planted! Photo via Taylor Babington for Bham Now 

The garden, designed pro bono by Carlos Hernandez, a Highland Park resident and architect with ArchitectureWorks, includes the following:

  • 21 raised four-by-eight garden beds
  • Tool shed
  • Covered space for composting and outdoor classes

“Two of the beds are ADA-compliant, and the whole garden stands on a leveling grid made of recycled plastic. The grid makes the garden wheelchair accessible and friendlier for those with limited mobility.”

Tori McDonald

Bark Party

Supergirl pup Bubbles with her human, Gabi. Photo via Taylor Babington for Bham Now

To celebrate the launch of the garden, a Bark Party was held at the Clubhouse on Highland last Thursday night. It was raining cats and dogs (see what I did there?) but that didn’t deter four-legged friends from showing up in costume.

How to Get a Garden Plot

Space in the garden beds is limited, so there’s a lottery for residents to participate. Any Highland Park resident is eligible! Email highlandparkgardens@gmail.com if you’re interested or sign up here. You can also follow the garden on Facebook and on Instagram.

Lottery: Need to Know

  • The lottery is for the next growing season, March-November 2020.
  • There’s a $35 fee for a plot.
  • The lottery ends on February 15. Those selected will be notified at the end of February.
  • There are no restrictions on what residents can plant. The plants just need to be of the legal variety, if you know what I mean.

Plans for the Future

The new garden joins Birmingham’s robust roster of community gardens. Tori said it’s just the first step in a larger community food initiative. Garden organizers plant to launch a farmers market and produce service in the coming years, with the goal of increasing access to fresh food while decreasing food waste in Birmingham.

“We know that there are many wonderful organizations working hard on solutions to improving health and food access in Birmingham, and we are not interested in reinventing the wheel! We welcome all input and partnerships from individuals and organizations interested in making Birmingham a healthier, more equitable and sustainable city.”

Tori McDonald

We like the sound of that. Happy planting, Highland Park!

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Taylor Babington
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