Bush Hills Connections
Bush Hills Connections is a non-profit organization founded in 2017 which operates the Bush Hills Connections Complex a community garden, urban farm and community center at the former Woodrow Wilson Elementary School at 1030 4th Terrace West in the Bush Hills neighborhood of Birmingham's Ensley community. The organization's president is Joanice Thompson.
The non-profit is affiliated with the Bush Hills Neighborhood Association. They leased the 4-acre former school property and began redeveloping the grounds as the Bush Hills Community Garden and Urban Farm in 2018. The project includes an urban farm which distributes free produce to the neighborhood, and as a community garden for use by residents.
The project was led by Bush Hills neighborhood president Walladean Streeter. Through her efforts, Bush Hills Connections negotiated a 50-year lease for the school property, then successfully applied for rezoning from the Birmingham Zoning Advisory Committee, and obtained certification from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Office of Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production.
The urban farm portion of the property, which began planting in 2018, is supported by UAB's Live HealthSmart Alabama initiative. It is staffed by trained workers and select volunteers supervised by full-time farm manager April Williams. Produce from the farm is distributed for free to neighborhood residents. Plots in the community garden are available to neighborhood residents for their own planting.
In 2022 Bush Hills Connections began working with Goodwyn, Mills & Cawood architects and B. L. Harbert Construction on plans to renovate the former school building itself for community programs, and potentially for affordable housing. Additional work with the City of Birmingham and Alabama Power Company have resulted in repairs to sidewalks and wheelchair ramps, new tree plantings, street lighting and outdoor furniture around the center.
- "Birmingham Volunteers Help in Bush Hills Community" (January 29, 2022) About Town
- Banks, Richard (January 7, 2023) "An old school in Birmingham’s Bush Hills is now an urban farm. Residents are thinking bigger" WBHM.org / BirminghamWatch
- Byington, Pat (May 25, 2023) "Game-Changer: Bush Hills Connections Complex dedicated, thanks to partnerships" Bham Now
- Bush Hills Connections website