Dothan's first community garden could be expanding

By  | 

DOTHAN, Ala. (WTVY) All over Dothan properties in urban environments have been left abandoned or are underutilized.

Aunt Katie's Community Garden

They're called brownfields.

"There are also sites that have at least a suspicion of being contaminated therefore may be an impediment to their ability to be renovated or purchased," says senior project manager Greg Stover.

The founder of Aunt Katie's Community Garden, Michael Jackson, hopes to use one of those properties for expansion.

"It will create a healthier environment; our children will know more where their food comes from and the adults too," says Jackson.

The land beside the garden at one time was one of the city's electrical substations and some contaminants remain.

The Environmental Protection Agency offers grants to ensure these properties are safe, but that land didn't make the cut for the clean-up grant last year.

“We went through a debriefing process with EPA, and they felt like it was a very good grant application and a very good story and so they wanted us just make a few changes,” says city planner Bob Wilkerson.

Communities around the country compete for the brownfield grant but, if selected this time the garden will be able to supply farmer's markets and give those in the community access to fresh affordable produce.

“He's going to put raised tunnel beds on the site he hopes to have three in there and that will enable him to begin to supply fresh greens and vegetables on a year-round basis,” says Wilkerson.

Jackson says the garden located in the middle of a low-income neighbor addresses a serious healthcare issue.

“The Wiregrass region is amongst one of the highest rates of childhood obesity. The evidence-based research indicates that you bring the good food closer to where the target audience is,” says Jackson.

The EPA grants provide up to $200,000 per site for clean-up.

The clean-up grant application is due December 8th. Recipients will be selected by early June of 2020.