1613 2nd Ave, Tuscaloosa, AL 35401
We build community through food. By increasing access to fresh, locally-grown produce, we empower our community to make healthy and sustainable food choices. We use school gardens, farm stands and educational programs to help diverse communities in Alabama build vibrant food systems.
How we started:
In 2010, DCGP broke ground on a 2,500 square foot organic garden at University Place Elementary School (UPES) in Tuscaloosa. With seed and plant donations, the kids helped us plant the first vegetables and 200 students gathered for bi-weekly lessons. The garden engages children in critical science and math classes while also connecting to their food sources. Students help grow the vegetables which they then sell at an on-site, subsidized Farm Stand. Here, students participate in our Budding Entrepreneurs program, learning basic business and financial literacy skills while selling the produce they helped grow – and have a blast doing it!
When UPES was destroyed by an F4 tornado in April, 2011, the students moved to an interim location while the school is rebuilt. We cleared out and replanted the school garden at UPES and constructed a second garden of raised beds at the temporary school where our students still attend our weekly classes. Our original garden site serves as a community gathering space and service-learning site for University of Alabama students.
In 2012 we began a garden program at the Tuscaloosa County Juvenile Detention Facility, teaching rehabilitation and science based lessons to incarcerated youth.
Where we are now:
We are expanding our program into more Title One elementary schools in Alabama. With a fully integrated curriculum that meets Alabama’s Course of Study guidelines for science and math, and professional development classes to teach educators how to utilize a garden as a teaching tool, we plan to continue making a difference in more children’s lives.
In the longterm, we expect to 1) Improve test scores in science and math, 2) Increase consumption of fresh produce, 3) Increase knowledge of basic business skills through the Budding Entrepreneurs program, 4) Increase community engagement by drawing in diverse partners, volunteers, and representatives, 5) Establish healthier eating habits to reduce childhood obesity rates, and 6) Increase environmental awareness and stewardship through hands-on experiences with the natural world.?