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New Project in District 9 Aims to Teach Residents About Urban Gardening

Ensley is Alive and well as Birmingham City Councilor Marcus Lundy took to the plow with community leader Brian “Voice” Hawkins as a part of the Color Project, an initiative that uses public art, gardens, light and sound to address issues of health disparities and overall safety in Ensley. The project also uses tilled mini food gardens as a way to combat food deserts and provide nutritional options to the entire community.

“I’m excited about the work that Bethesda Life Center is doing, they are really taking a holistic approach to food insecurities throughout the Ensley neighborhood,” Councilor Lundy said. “One of the things I ran on 3 years ago was to make sure we revitalize Ensley. It has been a slow and strenuous process but I’m excited to see growth around the community gardens. There are about a dozen individual boxes and people will be putting all types of fruits and vegetables in these gardens. These are the types of ways to alleviate food deserts, or as we know them to be, food insecurities in our communities so that folks in the Ensley community can have a better shot at life.”

An estimated 88,000 Birmingham residents live in food deserts, which are contributed to a lack of grocery stores, farmers’ markets, and healthy food providers, while growing concerns plague Birmingham communities that suffer from blight.

Community Leader and Director of the Color Project Brian “Voice” Hawkins said this is one of the many attempts at getting the community to address and find a practical solution to a major concern.

“You have to show people in the community that change is possible before the masses get on board,” Hawkins said. “So we’ve put out the call to Ensley High School Alumni and some of the merchants who want to see this place grow as they have a vested interest here. We’ve asked them to be the first wave to “Show” others what can actually happen when a movement such as Ensley Alive and the Color Project rejuvenate what we already know as a vibrant lifestyle in Ensley.”

Birmingham City Councilors say they will continue to push to see new economic development solutions introduced into communities that will attract potential nutrition solutions by way of farmers markets as well as healthy food trucks that will circulate throughout the city as a whole.

This article is a contribution from Chiara Perry ( in the Birmingham City Council Public Information Office. For more information please contact 205.254.2294.