Turning a KKK Bombing Ground Into an Urban Farm
The lot doesn’t look like much: Short stacks of tires line a small rectangle of flattened cardboard boxes, all interspersed with bright green vines of invasive kudzu.
To Rev. Majadi Baruti, however, it’s a pumpkin patch and future urban farm. The tires are planters for young Sugar Baby pumpkins, the cardboard will keep weeds down and attract worms to fertilize the soil, and the kudzu will work wonders for compost because of its nitrogen content. Two patches of what looks like empty soil will soon sprout flowers, which will then “bring bees and butterf lies,” says Baruti.
The pumpkins are the first sign of growth for the Dynamite Hill-Smithfield Community Land Trust. The trust, founded in 2015 by Baruti’s partner, Susan Diane Mitchell, has adopted 2.5 acres across eight empty lots in the historically black neighborhood named after the dozens of Ku Klux Klan bombings there in the mid-1900s. The first bombing took place on one of the adopted plots, Baruti says. “What we’re doing is trying to resurrect and sit inside of that ancestral spirit.”