For the past five years he has helped run the Diversity Agriculture Club in the Knoxville community of Talladega and is currently cultivating the soil for the next harvest.
Green is the pastor of the Christian Diversity Center. With the help of his wife Gwen, several church members, and the Talladega County Extension Office, the community garden been going strong over the years.
His particular method of cultivation called plasticulture has proved to be extremely beneficial.
“This is one of the best most innovative ways of gardening,” Green said.
Plasticulture involves using agricultural plastics, or in Green’s case, two-sided plastic, with a black side on the inside to retain heat and white side on the outside to reflect the heat.
“It’s not just the plastic, it’s the soft soil so the roots can grow out and find the water and nutrients in the soil,” Green said.
“I watched it five years and decided to try it. This is the better way I’ve found after 40-something years of gardening.”
Under the plastic is a miniature irrigation system that has thousands of holes that allow water to drip down and soak the soil.
“It’s amazing how it works but it does work,” Green said. “The way it works, you don’t even need fertilizer. This plastic will create an environment for anything to grow.”
The previous harvest was planted in February and harvested around April or May. In May, the soil is cultivated again and covered with the plastic.
For the summer months, the garden’s soil in banked up and covered up with the plastic. Green and his volunteers will start planting in the fall when temperatures cool down at night.
“Now were just cultivating the land, we’re waiting for August; the night temperature will be in the 60s. The night cools it off after the soil gets hot in the day,” Green said.
“It produces four to six times more than planting in regular soil.”
In August, holes are punched into the plastic and the small plant will be placed in the hole.
All rows are connected to a large pipe that pumps water throughout the 3-acre field through small irrigation tubes.
“They say certain things grow in certain places, but you give them the right atmosphere and they can grow anything,” Green said.
“You see the condensation build up around a glass? That’s what it does.”
But for Green, the community garden is not just about making sure something grows,
it is an opportunity to teach the community about the benefits of growing their own food.
“It was about 62 children when we did this [in February], and it produced so much we had to let some of it rot,” Green said.
Green said he and his volunteers sold their produce, canned over 200 jars of okra and beans, gave some produce away to the elderly, and still had some fruits and veggies left over.
“We just let it rot in the field. It served as fertilizer in the ground,” Green said.
For Green, teaching the community, young and old, about the importance of cultivating their own food is key to everything he does in the garden.
He believes that getting someone, whether they are eight years old or 78 years old, involved in the planting stage, growing stage, harvesting stage, and even the canning and selling stage, not only feeds the body, but nourishes the soul.
“This is the most spiritual thing you can do without being in church,” Green said. “I can be out here for eight hours and it feels like 15 minutes.”
Green also said that many young people do not even know where their food comes from, and are often amazed that they can grow something themselves.
“They didn’t see anything like this before. They thought it came from Walmart,” Green said.
Now Green has those same young people gardening at home.
“I’ve got 11- and 12-year-old children raising chickens, selling vegetables, and planting their own vegetables,” Green said.
Green promotes entrepreneurship amongst the young people who volunteer and splits their proceeds from the garden so that they can purchase school clothes and supplies.
Children from the community including the Talladega Headstart program and teens from Talladega High School have been involved in the community garden literally planting everything under the sun like several types of tomatoes and beans, okra, eggplants, squash, cucumbers, asparagus, watermelon, and strawberries.
“We are killing each other with what we eat. The reason why I created this was because there are so many people in this area with high blood pressure, diabetes, everything that stuff right here in this garden can cure, not treat, cure,” Green said.
“The Bible said ‘the green leaves from the trees is medicine for the body’—believe that.”
For now while the soil cultivates, Green hopes to cultivate the minds of people young and old in the community about how their eating choices affect their health and overall well-being.
“Farming and gardening is a dying art,” Green said. “Teenagers aren’t being taught this. Where they’re clearing these places, they’re making more Walmarts. If we don’t teach some of the next generation this here, we’re going to be in trouble.”
Contact Aziza Jackson at firstname.lastname@example.org.