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My name is Jacqueline Jackson, Urban Farmer for Mattie's Garden. Mattie's Garden is an urban farm located in Birmingham, Alabama since March 2018. We organically grow fruits, herbs, microgreens, vegetables, and offer seedlings/starts. Mattie's Garden is named after my grandmother, Mattie. Some of my fondest memories growing up were shared with my grandmother. Some memories were shared in her garden or around food. Mattie was number 8 out of 11 siblings. She grew up around the Great Depression during very hard times. During those times, she shared how Black and White people struggled to find food. On many accounts, she shared how people would come to her mother's doorstep to ask for food. Her mother, Cora would first make sure her children have eaten then she would share with others. Mattie said her mother taught all of her children that "If anyone comes to you and say that they are hungry, you feed them." Mattie believed that EVERYONE should have access to food and good food. She believed that's a right to every human being.
Before becoming an urban farmer, I was in Corporate America for almost 8 years. My former job as a Personal Banker involved having financial conversations around what's important to our customers and providing a solution that matches their needs. I loved my job! Moreover, I enjoyed having meaningful conversations that led to my customers succeeding financially. After year 5, I began to ask myself, "Is this the company I should retire from?" "God, do I have any other purpose or talents?" I pondered on these questions for some time. My belief is that there is a difference between a dream and a vision. "I believe a dream is sign but a vision comes with a plan." Once I received that vision, I began working on the plan. Next, I shared my vision with my husband. He was not so sure at first. He even said, "We are going to be poor." We laugh about that moment until this day. Once I shared my plan, he put all of his resources and support behind me. We saved aggressively for 2 years. After 2 years passed, I begin preparing to make my exit. That's when tragedy hit. Two months before officially launching Mattie's Garden, my grandmother passed away after battling dementia. I was devastated. When I think about her life, her stories, the food she cooked, the lessons learned and all of our memories together, it gave me new purpose. My new purpose is Mattie's Garden. Mattie's Garden vision is to reduce food insecurity by growing healthy, organic food and making it accessible to all community members.