Sustainable South: Magic City Agriculture Project

Zac Henson_portrait
Zac Henson. Photo by Emilie Dayan.

Next week, we welcome the SFA’s 2013-2014 post-doctoral fellow Zac Henson to our headquarters in Oxford, Mississippi. As our fellow, Zac will develop curriculum and teach courses on the relationship between foodways and cultural life in the American South. Here’s a little bit about him:

A Birmingham, Alabama native, Zac received his doctorate in Environmental Science, Policy, and Management this spring from the University of California, Berkeley. He wrote his dissertation on segregation, gentrification, and the commons in Birmingham. The dissertation explores how the city’s history of racial conflict and segregation shaped space in the region and the consequences of that spatial production on the current alternative food and agriculture movement. He analyzes three processes that produce Birmingham’s racialized space—capital accumulation, racialization, and commoning. In his discussion of gentrification, he highlights diverse organizations that use urban agriculture as a means of community development.

MCAP_permaculture design
Permaculture design for Davis Diversified Farms. Photo by MCAP.

Zac’s knowledge of community development is not limited to paper. Since 2011, Zac has led Birmingham’s Magic City Agriculture Project (MCAP). As a community development non-profit, the mission is to improve environmental, social, and economic conditions in the Magic City and beyond. The MCAP pursues “just sustainability”— sustainable agriculture and permaculture founded on the values of anti-racism, economic justice, and ecological wisdom.

Projects undertaken by the MCAP include drafting a permaculture design for Davis Diversified Farms in Jemison, AL (pictured above,) working with Southside Green Thumbs Community Garden and Southwest Birmingham Community Farm, conducting anti-racism workshops, and collecting oral histories in the Hillman Station neighborhood.

We look forward to welcoming Zac to the table.

Emilie Dayan, our project coordinator, blogs weekly about issues of nutrition, sustainability, and food policy in the South