Burning Spear News
Africa’s development project partners with historic St. Bartley Primitive Baptist Church to build community garden
Ms. Terri and Aisha Fields at Deacon Franklin Community Garden
For fifteen years now, the All African People’s Development and Empowerment Project (AAPDEP) has organized throughout the African world, building dual power community development programs in the areas of agriculture, education, healthcare, disaster preparedness and emergency response.
Established by the African People’s Socialist Party (APSP) which is led by Chairman Omali Yeshitela, AAPDEP is part of the international Uhuru (Freedom) Movement—organizing for the total liberation and unification of Africa and African people around the world.
AAPDEP members embrace our responsibility to the African Nation and recognize that our skills do not belong to us as individuals, but that they belong to the people!
We believe that African people must once again be a self-reliant, self-determining people and we work every day to make sure that we have the organization we need to address the most pressing issues we are confronted with as colonized people; top on that list is making sure that we can feed ourselves!
World hunger a result of colonialism
According to the United States Department of Agriculture, in 2021, 22 percent of African children lived in food insecure households. Black children were almost three times as likely to face hunger than white children.
About 21 percent of Africans living on the continent of Africa suffered from hunger in 2020, a total of 282 million people. More than 20 million people across Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya are now on the verge of starvation—about half of them, children.
While there are many reasons given for the hunger, every would-be explanation, including severe drought, poverty or even political conflict, are all symptoms of our condition as a colonized people.
The fertile farmland, water resources and other wealth of Africa are enough to feed African people the world over! That’s why in order to solve this problem we must have the resources of Africa in the hands of the government of the African working class!
Building community gardens for our people
AADPEP has a long history of building community gardens in African communities throughout the U.S. and Africa. Our gardens help African people share food-growing knowledge, deepen the bonds of community and contribute to our ability to feed ourselves!
Under the leadership of Kobina Bantushango, long-time member of AAPDEP and the APSP, AAPDEP has built community gardens in Decatur and Huntsville, Alabama. Our work in Huntsville has made an important advancement with the historic St. Bartley Primitive Baptist Church, where we’ve helped to establish the Deacon Theodore Franklin Community Garden.
St. Bartley, community-minded church
A part of the AAPDEP Community Garden Network, the Deacon Franklin Community Garden sits across the street from the historic church led by Pastor Jaymes Mooney.
The oldest African church in Alabama and one of the oldest in North America, St. Bartley was founded in 1820 by enslaved Africans who originally named it Huntsville African Baptist Church. The original church structure was built in the Old Georgia Graveyard of enslaved Africans in downtown Huntsville.
Huntsville African Baptist Church was later named St. Bartley Primitive Baptist Church in recognition of the church’s second Pastor, Bartley Harris.
Having served as Pastor of St. Bartley for the last five and a half years, Pastor Mooney thought it important to work with AAPDEP to build a community garden because he believes that our mission is in alignment with his personal conviction and the church.
“Working with AAPDEP to build this community garden was important because it reminds me of the African symbol Sankofa which means to remember what you’ve forgotten and retrieve it. It’s a reminder that to move forward you have to look back at those things created for your sustenance,” said Pastor Mooney and that “this garden is important because it will provide our community with the ability to learn from each other. It will help us be less dependent on others. It will provide food for our neighbors and it will help us to build our sense of community”
Community garden committee chair, Ms. Terri Batts, is a proud, long-time member of St. Bartley and a native of Huntsville.
As a child, she lived with her family on Yukon St. in Northwood Projects and later moved to Rideout Village. She learned how to grow food from her parents and grandparents who always kept a garden.
Her parents believed in showing their children how to be self-sufficient; her mother taught her how to sew and her father emphasized the importance of knowing how to survive no matter the circumstance.
Ms. Terri is a woman of great conviction. She loves her church, believes in serving the community, and takes pride in what she and her committee have done, with the support of AAPDEP, to build the garden.
Every Tuesday morning, Ms. Terri and her committee (Deacon Theodore Franklin, Bro. Eric Lumpkin, Sis. Alma Cuffy, Min. Eloise McNealey, Deacon Bradley McDonald and Sis. Eboni Crayton), tend to the beautiful garden which is full of sweet potatoes, greens, broccoli, green beans, onion, basil, brussel sprouts and cabbage.
Ms.Terri enjoys gardening because it makes her happy to know that others can eat from her labor. She speaks freely about the lessons she’s learned over the years from gardening–lessons she hopes others will also learn by working in the garden.
“Consistency is the key. You might not feel like it, but you’ve got to get up every day and do the work. You’ve gotta keep going even if there are just a few of you,” says Ms. Terri.
AAPDEP unites with Ms. Terri’s sentiments and salutes her and her committee along with the incredible leadership of their Pastor, Jaymes Mooney, for uniting with AAPDEP as we share our skills, labor and love of community. We will continue to work together to build the Deacon Theodore Franklin Community Garden and AAPDEP community gardens in African communities everywhere!
African people can and must feed ourselves–all we need is a vision and organization, and like Ms. Terri says, some consistency!
If you want to work with AAPDEP to build a community garden at your church or in your community, reach out to us at [email protected]