A mural at Galloway Elementary School is part of the Fertile Ground Project. Image: Drew Dempsey/Fertile Ground

A three-year-long public art project that addressed food scarcity and began conversations around the same topic will celebrate its successes with two days of events and exhibitions Friday, October 8 and Saturday, October 9.

The Fertile Ground project highlights food insecurity resulting from the history of segregation and long-standing government policies. The public art installations across the city highlight and combat food access issues, provide access to fresh food, and host dialogue on how to provide healthier food options for our communities.

The weekend’s events, originally scheduled to debut last April but were postponed due to COVID-19, have now been reenvisioned through workshops, the Magnolia Sunset Markets and a dinner by Chef Enrika Williams at Fertile Ground Farms. The weekend includes 11 events across four categories: Exhibit, Workshop, Exchange, and Food.

Attendees can find a detailed schedule of events on the Fertile Ground website and Eventbrite, where registration for workshops is open. Most events are free of charge, though some will have limited attendance to ensure social distancing. All events will take place outside, and attendees must wear masks at all times. Vaccinations are recommended but not required.

In November 2018, the City of Jackson was selected as a Bloomberg Philanthropies Public Art Challenge winner. Jackson received $1 million for its project, “The Fertile Ground Project: Inspiring Dialogue About Food Access,” using public art to raise awareness around the complexities of our food system in the city and state.

“This project is so important because we live in abundance, but we operate from a place of scarcity, and in our society, there is no justification for anyone to go hungry or anyone not to have access to healthy food options,” said Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba. “In many respects, food is love in our communities. Food is a reflection of how we demonstrate our appreciation for people. And, in spaces where people have very little to offer, food is one of the few things that they can give you to demonstrate their love and appreciation for you. I am truly grateful for the dedication and hard work of the team that has worked to make this Fertile Ground Project and series of events a reality.”

Schedule of Events:

Friday, October 8

  • Galloway Ribbon Cutting Ceremony for the Living Room at Galloway a learning garden designed by Mississippi State University Interdisciplinary Design + Realization Alliance Exhibitions across the city, virtual map located here
  • Makers Market organized by Magnolia Sunset Markets at Belhaven Heights Park. Tickets are $5 to enter the market.

Saturday, October 9

  • Workshops on health include meditation, nutrition, plant management, and regenerative design practices from 9 am – 5 pm at Ecoshed. Workshops are free, and pre-registration is required.
  • “Burnt Sienna: Weaving of the Textile and Culinary Arts” fundraiser dinner at Foot Print Farms curated by Chef Enrika Williams. Tickets are $65 with a screening of the Fertile Ground Documentary that follows the life of residents experiencing food insecurity within under-served communities and highlights food advocates within Jackson that are working on localized efforts to address these issues. The Fertile Ground Documentary was recently awarded a Southeast Emmy for Social Commentary, Long Form. The film reveals the challenges Jackson faces but simultaneously showcases how fertile the future could be if we collectively work together to transform our local food system.”

“We want people to walk away knowing that there is a larger problem related to food access outside of the conventional narrative related to obesity and dieting,” said Salam Rida, one of the Fertile Ground project managers.

“Nutrition, convenience, access, transportation, and education are critical to shifting the narrative around what food access issues mean in our communities. We do not think that we will be able to change people’s behaviors with one event. However, we hope that the public art installations across the city and online spark a sense of agency and interest in learning more and continuing to be part of the Fertile Ground project into the future. We have already experienced a shift in the way people are thinking and talking about this project, and we hope these creative approaches involve many more going forward.”