Lawn & Garden
AUBURN UNIVERSITY, Ala. – Alabama Extension’s Grow More, Give More (GMGM) project has been positively impacting lives since 2020. In 2023, the project’s initiative is to provide more targeted assistance to communities facing food insecurity. Thanks to support from a committed partner, the Alabama Association of RC&D Councils, Extension will be able to continue helping those in need of sustainable food resources.
The USDA defines a food desert as an area in which at least 33% of a population in low-income areas lives anywhere from one to 10 miles from a supermarket or grocery store. Approximately 2 million Alabamians live in a food desert, according to a 2020 report.
Bringing Food to the Desert
Some consumers can easily visit grocery stores or buy from those that offer pickup and delivery services. However, many Alabama families, both in rural and urban areas, do not have easy access to healthy food.
Bethany O’Rear, GMGM coordinator, said rural citizens in a food desert must travel long distances to grocery stores or food pantries. On the urban side, residents are hindered by difficult routes and public transportation timing.
“While these sound like very different problems, they can be addressed by the same solution: bring the community garden to the food desert in a portable, inexpensive and easy grow kit,” O’Rear said.
Objectives for 2023
GMGM’s solution is to utilize the program’s pop-up community gardens. Each of Alabama Extension’s 13 home grounds agents will identify one rural and one urban food desert location in their respective service area to establish a pop-up garden.
These gardens consist of planting buckets, grow bags and necessary seed or soil which will be delivered to senior centers across the state. The pop-up gardens are portable by design and easy to duplicate for school and civic center garden efforts.
“Hopefully, seniors will want to test their green thumbs at home – planting their own two-gallon or five-gallon buckets while taking their vegetable gardening skills even further,” O’Rear said.
With these pop-up gardens, residents will be able to grow fresh produce consistently for almost an entire year. GMGM participants do not need any previous gardening experience. For convenience, all necessary items to grow vegetables such as drip irrigation and container stands are provided. Additionally, Alabama Extension and community volunteers will share the know-how to help novice and veteran gardeners fight hunger in Alabama.
A Committed Partner
The mission of the Alabama Association of RC&D Councils is to secure and enhance social and economic benefits for people across Alabama. It is a valued supporter of Alabama Extension.
The GMGM project has received essential funding resources from the RC&D Councils since 2021. Their assistance has allowed Extension’s home grounds team to impact many lives across the state.
“The partnership between Alabama Extension and the Alabama Association of RC&D Councils reflects our mutual desire to combat food insecurity,” O’Rear said. “More importantly, this project allows us to harness the enthusiasm of home gardeners and community volunteers in every county. It’s an absolute win-win.”
The GMGM campaign will continue assisting Alabamians with community-based gardening resources. To learn more about the program, visit the Grow More, Give More section of Alabama Extension’s website, www.aces.edu.