Urban communities are often at risk for experiencing food insecurity, which is the state of being without reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food. Approximately 16% of Jefferson County residents are considered food insecure, with that number estimated to be much higher inside Birmingham's city limits. Black families and households that include children in general are at even higher risk for experiencing food insecurity.
Our Urban agriCULTURE Initiative supports other local efforts to address Birmingham's 'food desert' crisis by greatly increasing the amount of fresh produce grown in the city through two efforts: the installation of Bloom Community Cultivation Sites and the establishment of the Bloom agriCULTURE Farm - which both utilize traditional raised bed garden plots and cutting-edge hydroponics technology as we explore new ways to create grow spaces in our urban community. The use of modern agri-tech will allow our team to produce up to 3 times the normal amount of food crops in the same amount of space vs. traditional in-ground techniques. Both growing methods - raised bed gardens and the hydroponics units - will also mitigate the issue of environmental concerns in some areas of Birmingham that are one legacy of the city's industrial history.
Produce grown on the Bloom agriCULTURE Farm will be made available to the community in a number of ways. The majority of the produce will be reserved for the Bloom Produce Pantry and available free of charge to Birmingham residents with monthly household incomes up to 200% of the federal poverty line. This allows individuals and families with incomes too high to be eligible for SNAP benefits to receive assistance, while also taking into consideration that life circumstances can change from month to month and an unexpected loss of employment can lead a previously financially secure individual to experience food insecurity while searching for a new employment opportunity.
The Bloom agriCULTURE Farm will also provide a number of opportunities related to educational attainment and workforce development. There is significant funding available for students interested in going into the agricultural sciences and new career paths are developing out of the expansion of the urban farming and agri-tech fields. The Farm will provide Birmingham youth and young adults with the exposure and hands-on experience they need to take advantage of those opportunities - all within a culturally relevant environment. It will also create adult workforce development opportunities through a training program and jobs that support the growth and success of the Farm itself.
In addition to this on-site programming, our Back to Our Roots community outreach program incorporates the exploration of the legacy of growing food in African and African American cultures and the adaptation of basic gardening skills for the growing of crop plants in non-traditional settings, such as apartments and public housing communities. Participants are able to not only plant their own food during workshops in community locations across the city, but also learn how to care for the plants and healthy ways to add their future harvest into their current diet.
Urban agriCULTURE Initiative
Bloom Community Cultivation Sites
Bloom Urban Farm
Bloom Produce Pantry
Back to Our Roots
Home Gardening Classes
Horticulture/Agricultural Sciences Education & Career Exposure Programming