United Way awards Grow Selma $20,000 to buy property

Published 10:11 pm Monday, April 18, 2016

Grow Selma will celebrate Earth Day on Friday with an afternoon full of events at its Mill Village Community Garden and Food Park.

The nonprofit will be accepting a $20,000 check from the United Way of Selma and Dallas County to help purchase land for a community garden between Jackson Street and Kent Street.

“We’d really like to thank United Way for helping us purchase the garden property. They help so many people in our community and seem really excited about the things going on at the garden,” said Clay Carmichael with Grow Selma. “We’re looking forwarding to purchasing the property and partnering with them in the future.”

The money was made available from a $100,000 grant the United Way received from an anonymous donor.

United Way executive director Jeff Cothran said his board wanted to spend the one-time funds in a way that would make a lasting impact.

“The community garden has a lot of people involved with it. It is big. It’s in an area that needs something like this,” Cothran said. “The board was really sold on not just the community garden but educating students about sustainable living. We can see for generations the effect this will have. We believe in them.”

The United Way’s donation has to be used to purchase the land by the end of the year.

Carmichael said the Grow Selma board is drafting a contract to buy the property. Long-term plans include a vegetable garden, orchard, greenhouse and more.

In addition to the check presentation, Grow Selma will work Friday with volunteers from local schools and the Cahaba Center for Mental Health and will introduce its new “Green Machine” hydroponic system.

The system, which was donated by Mega International and Associates, is used to grow plants in a water-based, nutrient rich solution without soil. The system will be another tool Grow Selma can used to educate students, Carmichael said.

“It’s really sustainable. It’s efficient,” Carmichael said. “It’s made where you can take it to schools and show them how to do it.”

Mega International and Associates also donated 100 native trees like white oaks and tulip poplars to Grow Selma.

Some of those trees will be planted Friday. Volunteers will repot the rest for fall planting around town.

Grow Selma will also team up with Let’s Move Selma to do some planting at the Police Athletic League on Earl Goodwin Parkway.

For more about the event, see Grow Selma on Facebook.