Benjamin, other council members lead community garden effort

Published 6:52 pm Saturday, May 6, 2017

Community gardens have become a popular thing over the last several years, encouraging people in communities to come together, build relationships and eat healthier.

For the past eight years, Selma City Councilwoman Angela Benjamin has been working to develop community gardens in Selma, and has since got other council members involved.

“Dallas County is one of the top obese counties in Alabama, and so it will behoove us to have these community gardens and promote healthy eating and healthy lifestyles,” Benjamin said.

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Shortly after beginning the first garden, former First Lady Michelle Obama began her initiative Let’s Move! Cities, Towns and Counties. Selma’s former first lady Jeannie Evans jumped on board with Let’s Move! Selma, and Benjamin decided to join the initiative and began building community gardens under that umbrella.

“It started with the national initiative that First Lady Michelle Obama had. We had community gardens before the national initiative, but we joined the initiative when it started,” she said. “We started working inside the schools and into the communities placing community gardens in those areas that needed it and had vacant lots and a lot of green space.”

Benjamin said she really wanted the community to interact and to help with fresh, healthy food for one of the most obese counties in the state.

“It helps build relationships. You learn neighbors right next door to you and you learn neighbors from all the way across town and across borders and across classes,” Benjamin said. “You get to know these neighbors and now you’re building relationships inside the community while you build these community gardens.”

Benjamin said there are now eight community gardens that fall under Let’s Move! Selma, and council members Jannie Thomas, Susan Youngblood, Michael Johnson and Sam Randolph all participate in their wards.

In the gardens they have planted tomatoes, okra, corn, onions, cantaloupe, watermelon, greens, squash, zucchini and more.

“People can go and pick fresh fruit and vegetables and all we ask the community to do is to help pull the weeds and help water,” Benjamin said.