New Birmingham ordinance encourages urban gardens

Urban gardens like this one will be easier to establish thanks to a new ordinance. Source: WBRC video
Urban gardens like this one will be easier to establish thanks to a new ordinance. Source: WBRC video

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - The Birmingham City Council adopted a new set of guidelines to help those who want to start urban gardens within city limits.

The new rules are meant to regulate and encourage the spread of urban gardens on vacant property by making it possible to set up food stands to sell some of the produce on site as long as you're well away from schools and parks.

The new guidelines also allow for the expanded use of beekeeping. Beekeepers can now keep up to 10 hives per acre inside the city.

Ama Shambulia takes pride in the West End Community Garden.

"Over here are tomatoes which is a market staple as well," said Shambulia as she showed FOX6 News around the garden Tuesday.

The garden is going strong into its fifth growing season. They harvest onions, strawberries and apples, just to name a few foods.

"Food is fundamental. You know, it's fundamental to everything we do. If food ain't happenin', ain't nothin happenin'," Shambulia said.

The once overgrown piece of property doesn't just serve as a planting ground. Shambulia says she's seen it build a stronger community.

"I've seen community members become a little bit more mindful about their yard space. We've seen community members actually start gardens. We definitely experienced children, you know having a safe space, an open space to come and play and work and be safe. Safe spaces for seniors to go," she said.

She's not the only one whose seen seeds change lives. Leigh Ann Hargrove is the garden manager at the Bee Community Garden at the Eco Farm. Lee Ann said she's eager to see what this new ordinance will turn out.

"It's kind of giving us a little bit of acknowledgment in Birmingham. It's got some rules and regulations to kind of help guide and direct new gardens that are forming," she said.

Right now there are approximately 30 community gardens around Birmingham. A lot of them serve as education tools to community members and they often sell their products at local markets put their profits back into the garden.

If you would like more information about community gardens you can contact the United Way of Central Alabama.

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