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Tuskegee University Urban Agriculture Innovation Center

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 Tuskegee University Urban Agriculture Innovation Center (TUAIC).

The Center broke ground in February of 2020 and will assist the local community and decrease food insecurity found within urban areas. Though travel restrictions through the pandemic considerably slowed the process, implementation is beginning to pick up again at the TUAIC. The innovation center will focus on offering the community a public garden and provide educational tips and promote entrepreneurship.

“Tuskegee has historically been engaged in agriculture in the Black Belt counties since the founding in 1881, and we’re looking to increase not only the innovations within agriculture, but we also want to engage and expose youth and the surrounding community to the entire food system in a way the develops and empowers the community,” explained Dr. Raymon Shange, assistant dean for cooperative extension in the College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences.

“We’re taking the legacy of Tuskegee University Cooperative Extension – and creating a demonstration center to host workshops that teach pre-harvest, growing, and postharvest techniques, serves as community gathering space, as well as a resource center for the local community,” noted Shange. “We’re partnering with artists, entrepreneurs, educators and more to provide a healthy and healing experience to this historic neighborhood.”

Tuskegee University’s involvement has included the site planning and design, implementation and building of the food garden, site management through partnerships with the School of Architecture and Construction Science and Department of Social Work addressing more community development needs. Students have and will continue to play a vital role in making this a successful program.

In addition to the partnership, the Carver Integrative Sustainability Center held public dialogues to stimulate the collaboration and assess community assets, needs and involvement. The team held several community town halls to engage their cultural and historical perceptions and find out success stories within the community.

“The community members were very welcoming; residents have been our teachers in how to be productive and sustainable members of this community,” added Shange.

In the coming months, the Center will continue to partner with other organizations that continue to give the community a more vibrant touch. The Center will serve as a central point for outreach efforts in community, church, and school food and agricultural projects throughout the city. The Tuskegee University Urban Agriculture Innovation Center is located at Mobile and Grady Street in downtown Montgomery, Alabama.

The team leading this effort is as follows:

  • John Myers – Urban Agricultural and Natural Resource Agent with a specialty in emerging technology (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, Geographic Information Systems, Remote Sensing)
  • Terence Jackson – Agricultural and Natural Resource Agent for Macon and Montgomery Counties with specialties in Regenerative Agriculture
  • Lindsey Lunsford – Assistant Professor for Food Systems Education and Policy with a specialty in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in local food systems.
  • Catrina Hoffman – Family and Consumer Sciences Agent for Macon and Montgomery Counties with specialties in Community Nutrition.