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     Founded in 1985, Alabama Gardens is one of the oldest member community gardens in the Houston area. The founders, Verious and Voyall Smith, and a group of friends would congregate in an over-grown, trash strewn vacant lot to hang out and share stories. Over time the group started to clean up the Texas Southern University owned plot of land and grow vegetables to help surrounding neighbors living in low-income housing.

     They grew community seasonal favorites such as tomatoes, okra, peppers, different varieties of squash and greens. These crops were not easy to come by given the community limited access to full-service grocery stores. Unfortunately, Third Ward is considered a food desert. Food deserts are areas with limited options to buy affordable fresh fruit and vegetables and other food staples. Word spread of the garden and the vision these men had to improve the community though gardening; this led to the involvement of Dr. Bob Randal and Urban Harvest becoming a sponsor of the garden. With the support of Urban Harvest and volunteers, Alabama Gardens was to organize and expand.

     The garden has received many awards and acknowledgements on a local, state, and national level! Mr. JD Green continued the legacy after most of the founders passed away. With the passing of Mr. Green in 2021, Terry Garner, a nearly 30-year member, took the lead role as garden coordinator with the goal of educating the community on gardening and the continues the battle against food insecurity our area faces.


     Today, Alabama Gardens has 55 beds that measure approximately 4x40 ft. The garden includes an equipment shed, an office, a bathroom, worktable with sink, various chairs, and area to grill. All equipment and hoses are for communal use and locked in a shed. The plots are designated for planting edible crops. Alabama Gardens gives the opportunity to empower community members to take control of their health and destiny, connect to the earth and work alongside each other to build something great. The founders may have all passed on but they leave a living legacy that will not be forgotten. 


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