AFRICATOWN, Ala. – A community garden project in Africatown that was given the boot a few months ago is back in business, thanks to the efforts of a former Alabama State Representative.
Bill Clark found out in November that the Jake’s Lane Community Garden in Africatown had lost it’s grant.
“Through the change of administration downtown our grant got caught up in the swap, and therefore we lost it in that process. Thank goodness commissioner McMillian was kind enough to allow us to reapply for it,” Clark said.
The former Alabama State Representative took the issue to the Commissioner of Agriculture in Montgomery, and within a few months Africatown had two USDA Specialty Crop grants totaling nearly 50 thousand dollars.
Clark said it’s a project that is important to this often overlooked community.
“This is just the wave of the nation now, going green. Growing vegetables, and doing things that we can get away from all the smoke and such. This health food that we can produce out here in the community, and give it to them for little or no cost is a wonderful thing. The people need this, we need this for this part of the country, and we’re proud to be part of the initial groups that’s dong something about going green,” he said.
With the spring planting season just around the corner, Ronnie Perine says the grants are right on time. Perine will direct the 4.4 parcel of land owned by Alabama Power Company. The utility supports the project and has granted the residents permission to garden on the site for decades.
Perine said it’s a way to share his love for gardening with the entire community.
“It’s a renaissance happening in Africatown right now, a rebirth of everything. From the revitalization of the Africatown visitation center, to the gardening process, and to re-beautify, and to revitalize this community is a great effort. Plus I’m connected to Mobile County Training School, that’s my Alma Mater, and I’m proud to do anything that helps beautify and glorify that school,” Perine said.
Both Perine and Clark say the ultimate goal is to establish a farmer’s market at the Jake’s Lane site.
“There’s a lot of hard work involved, but it’s rewarding work, and at Mobile County Training School where I got the kids involved, they did an outstanding job of tilling the soil and planting and growing stuff, and they were excited about their harvest. So, it’s a very good thing to do for this community,” he said.
The project will be administered by the Mobile County Training School Alumni Association.