Edwin Marty and Urban Farming in Montgomery, Alabama
Growing a Better Future
By Brent Rosen
OKRA Southern Food and Beverage Museum
Jan 18, 2012
Brent Rosen is a raconteur and pontoon boat captain on Lake Martin Alabama. He is interested in Southern food and Southern culture.
Urban farming operations exist throughout the South, but their stories often go unreported. I’ve read newspaper articles about Brooklynites whose roosters annoy their neighbors, and I’ve read about Berkleyites who have dinner parties using only ingredients grown locally by the attendees, but local agriculture in the South does not make headlines. If I tell you people are growing things in Alabama, you’ll likely shrug, knowing that melons and peaches grow just as easily as peanuts and cotton, that greens thrive in our mild winters, that pecan trees are as commonplace in backyards as Labrador retrievers. Even in Birmingham, Alabama’s largest urban area, you need only drive 15 minutes in any direction to be surrounded by farm and field. Agriculture is everywhere, so it seems unnecessary to focus on the agriculture that now exists within city limits.
Because the stories of Southern urban farms often go untold, many people in the region do not realize they have urban farms in their backyards. The farms are an amazing resource for community supported agriculture (CSA) programs, where consumers purchase an up-front share or membership in the farm, and then receive a bag or basket of seasonal produce throughout the farming season. Southerners also don’t realize we have leading urban farmers living in Little Rock Arkansas, Atlanta, Georgia or, in the case of Alabama, Montgomery. For instance, Edwin Marty, a farmer, gardening writer and author of the recently published book Breaking Through Concrete, (which I highly recommend to anyone with an interest in urban farming and sustainable agriculture), lives in Montgomery serving as the Executive Director of the Hampstead Institute.