Salam Rida, Fertile Ground director and Thabi Moyo, a project coordinator and co-founder of the Magnolia Sunset Market. Image provided.

In November 2018, the City of Jackson was selected as a Bloomberg Philanthropies Public Art Challenge winner.
The 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.

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.

Salam Rida, the project’s director and Thabi Moyo, a project coordinator and co-founder of the Magnolia Sunset Market, said using art to address more complex issues opens more minds and doors for change.

“We bring the experts to the table and have these conversations (about food scarcity),” Rida said. “But maybe they don’t know what’s going on in this community. Fertile Ground is an opportunity to bring local artists into this conversation in a way Jackson hasn’t seen before.”

“The art is a point of departure to talk about an important issue that affects Jackson,” Moyo said. “You may be here for this installation, but it plants a seed to begin that conversation. It’s creating spaces to have that conversation around and educate people that we live in a food desert and what access to food really looks like in the community.”

The Fertile Ground project funded infrastructure at Foot Print Farms to work with Moyo and her team with Magnolia Sunset Markets, who will be popping up Friday at Belhaven Heights Park as part of the weekend. The symbiotic relationship also supports one of the project’s central values: investing in the local economy, especially around food and creativity.

“Another aspect Michael Bloomberg talks about is that culture precedes capital,” Rida said. “The arts and culture piece will hopefully have an economic impact, raising awareness of neighborhoods. Sometimes, you need to be more creative instead of this thinking that you can just put a grocery store in a neighborhood to solve an issue.”

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.

Watch Salam and Thabi on My City TV