Need a New Year’s resolution? Become an urban farmer. Here is how.

Nadia Tellis and Roald Hazelhoff at the Birmingham Southern College Ecoscape taken in 2017. Photo by Pat Byington for Bham Now

When the COVID-19 pandemic ends, hopefully sooner than later, what are you going to tell your kids about it years from now? Are you going to say…

“I learned how to make sourdough bread!” 

“I sewed and produced facemasks.”

“The family binged on Netflix shows like Schitt$ Creek, Tiger King and the Queen’s Gambit.” 

As we enter year two of the pandemic, how about making a New Year’s resolution to become an urban farmer? Locally, thanks to Southern Environmental Center, who is partnering with the US Department of Agriculture, it’s possible.

Urban Farming Crash Course

Ruffner Mountain Birmingham Alabama
Native pollinator garden at Ruffner Mountain. Photo by Pat Byington for Bham Now

Beginning January 7, the two groups are launching a pilot program promoting sustainable communities by way of small-scale urban agriculture. They’ll be offering free Zoom workshops to a new generation of ‘backyard’ farmers in metro Birmingham. 

Along with workshops, participants can learn about  financial and technical support from the Natural Resources Conservation Services (NRCS) and other local sources. 

Below is the three-month urban farming crash course (note: you don’t have to take every workshop):

  • January 7 – High Tunnel Hoop House Initiative (Olandous Curry, NRCS); Growing & Preparing Collards (Marquita Hall, US Army Vet + Chef Extraordinaire)
  • January 14- Honey Bee Pollinator Initiative (Olandous); Starting Your Own Program (Adam Hickman, Foxhound Bee Company)
  • February 4 – Growing Pollinator and Nectar Plants (Turkey Creek Greenhouse Project)
  • February 18 – Finding & Acquiring Vacant Lots for Farming (Birmingham Land Bank – Invited) 
  • March 4 – Horticultural Therapy & Edible Landscapes: Transforming vacant lots into EcoScapes (Roald Hazelhoff)
  • March 11 – Making Gardens Accessible for People with Disabilities – Bush Hills Urban Farm (April Williams)

Additional Details

Birmingham Alabama
Putnam Middle School Gardens – photo by Pat Byington, Bham Now

The Zoom workshops are open to everyone with the first being held on Thursday, Jan 7 from 11:30AM to 12:30PM.

Register in advance here

After registering, you’ll receive a confirmation email containing information on how to join the meeting.

About the Southern Environmental Center

Want to learn more about urban gardens firsthand? For more than three decades, the Southern Environmental Center has been setting up public urban gardens, or “ecoscapes”, throughout the Magic City. Visit the Sims Ecoscape in Homewood to see some great backyard garden examples.

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Pat Byington
Pat Byington

Longtime conservationist. Former Executive Director at the Alabama Environmental Council and Wild South. Publisher of the Bama Environmental News for more than 18 years. Career highlights include playing an active role in the creation of Alabama's Forever Wild program, Little River Canyon National Preserve, Dugger Mountain Wilderness, preservation of special places throughout the East through the Wilderness Society and the strengthening (making more stringent) the state of Alabama's cancer risk and mercury standards.

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