Photo by Stephanie Lamphere. Creative Commons license.
Spring is now here and with it, the opportunity to grow your own food or to buy foods that are produced in your own community. The last few years have seen a sharp increase of interest in locally grown food and in the development of community gardens. The Community Garden Coalition for Birmingham lists over 30 community, church-, and school-affiliated gardens. Separately, the state Farmers Market Authority counts eight farmers markets in Shelby County, including one in Montevallo.
Montevallo boasts two community gardens, both founded in 2010. Montevallo Seed to Table offers educational programs on growing healthy food. The university's Organic Community Garden was founded as a project of the UM Environmental Club and produces thousands of pounds of food annually. Much of this produce is donated to Shelby Emergency Assistance.
Last year, I endeavored to collect my own list of area farms and community gardens. Since so many of these have a presence in Facebook, I used the social network's Interest List feature to collect them in one place. You can get to my List here: Birmingham Area Local Food and Produce.
In addition to supporting community gardening, the university's Summer Harvest course is an interdisciplinary offering designed to teach students about the basic issues of food insecurity, food distribution, and food equality. You can learn more about this course at the university's Environmental Studies course page.
Carmichael Library holds several books and videos on producing local food. You can view a sample of them here: Resources on Finding and Growing Local Food. In addition to information on growing food in your backyard, this list includes some coverage of the food industry and the debate on organic versus genetically-modified foods.
Lastly, the Carmichael Library has supported classroom learning on a variety of topics in the environmental sciences. One example of our efforts is our Environmental Studies Research Guide.
Are you planning a food garden this spring? Let us know in the comments and keep in touch. We'd love to know what you're growing and what works for you!