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Tuskegee, City of Montgomery partnership addresses food insecurity, community revitalization

March 19, 2020

Contact: Brittney Dabney, Office of Communications, Public Relations and Marketing

Students and community work on public garden
Students and community work on public garden.

Tuskegee University’s College of Agriculture, Environment and Nutrition Sciences is working with the City of Montgomery to address food security while also revitalizing a former downtown historic neighborhood. The Peacock Tract community will become home to the recently announced Urban Agriculture Innovation Center.

The center, which broke ground in February in the vicinity of Mobile and Grady Street, will assist the local community and decrease food insecurity found within urban areas. The innovation center will focus on offering the community a public garden, as well as providing education tips and promoting entrepreneurship.

“Tuskegee has historically been engaged in agriculture in the Black Belt counties, and we’re looking to increase not only the innovations within agriculture, but we also want to engage and consistently expose students and the community to agriculture early on and all aspects of the food system,” explained Dr. Raymon Shange, the college’s assistant dean for cooperative extension.

“We’re taking the legacy of George Washington Carver’s Jesup Wagon and creating mobile demonstrations and workshops that show what to do with the fresh fruits and vegetables before, during and after they are harvested from the garden,” noted Shange. “In this day, mobility is key and our purpose is to take advantage of innovative teaching skills through our hands-on education efforts.”

Tuskegee’s involvement with the project includes managing the food garden, providing technical assistance to local agriculturalists, while partnering with Tuskegee’s Taylor School of Architecture and Construction Science, Social Work and other university departments to offer more community development needs. 

Conceptual map
Conceptual map. Click image to view.

In addition, the Extension’s Public Dialogue Team – consisting of Lindsey Lunsford, Danielle Smith and Marquess James joined the partnership by evaluating the needs of the community. The team held four dialogues with nonprofit partner, 21 Dreams and community members to engage their cultural and historical perceptions, as well as identify success stories within the community.

“The community members were very engaging and welcoming — residents have desired community and economic development within the local food system for quite some time,” added Shange. “This community has a rich history in agriculture, food, and gardening, we’re just here to help reestablish that legacy.”

In the coming months, the center will continue to partner with other organizations — giving the community a more vibrant touch.

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