Lawn & Garden
ALABAMA A&M UNIVERSITY, Ala.—National gardening associations around the country report that home gardening is on the rise. In fact, 18.3 million new gardens were established during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Staff from the Alabama Cooperative Extension System at Alabama A&M University (AAMU) aspire to continue that trend by educating audiences about gardening at the new Bulldog Garden (BG) in north Alabama.
About the Garden
The Bulldog Garden, launched in April 2022, is a 100-feet by 150-feet demonstration garden located on the grounds of the Agribition Center in Huntsville, Alabama. Agribition Center manager and operations technicians Robert Spencer, Eric Nobles and Tim Smith, as well as Marcus Garner maintain the garden. Garner is an urban regional Extension agent in Madison County.
Nobles, BG project manager and the newest member of the Agribition Center team, is a veteran gardener. He was able to support his family while in high school by maintaining a garden in Union Springs, Alabama.
“I absolutely love this project,” Nobles said. “It allows me to return to gardening and to network with other farmers and gardeners across the state.”
The Bulldog Garden’s primary role is to serve as a demonstration site for urban agricultural programs, such as STEM in the Garden for educators. Extension horticulturist Rudy Pacumbaba, Garner and the home grounds team coordinate to manage and implement the programs. In addition, audiences will learn best management practices to establish and maintain popular gardening, such as raised bed and plasticulture gardening, as well as methods for traditional garden plots. The BG also combines several irrigation methods, planting designs, plant staking techniques and soil amendment applications based on soil test analysis.
The garden already produces a variety of fresh fruit, herbs and vegetables, such as sweet potatoes, okra, corn, squash, basil and peppers, just to name a few. To date, over 300 pounds of fresh produce have been harvested from the BG. Produce is shared among the public and through the Food Bank of North Alabama.
“With supporting partners, Alabama Extension is excited to have a demonstration garden for educational purposes,” Pacumbaba said. “Program participants get a firsthand look at the various types of gardens and can choose the best option for them. Educators can also share their knowledge and inspire the next generation of urban agriculturalists and STEM citizens.”
Bulldog Garden Support
No one can carry out a project of this size without help. The Bulldog Garden received funding from the following organizations:
- Alabama’s Mountains, Rivers and Valleys RC&D Council
- United States Department of Agriculture’s 1890 Facilities Grant Program
- Southern Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education’s Professional Development Program Grants
- The University of Alabama in Birmingham’s Harvest for Health, a chronic disease patient intervention project
Other contributors include AAMU’s Winfred Thomas Agricultural Research Station staff, Chris Becker (Limestone County Extension coordinator) and Donna Gilbert (Agribition Center administrative support specialist).
To learn more about home gardening or other urban agricultural programs, contact Pacumbaba at 256-372-4266 or Garner at 256-541-0291. For information about BG harvesting and produce, contact Nobles at 256-689-0274.