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Additional Information
  • Kristin Woods
  • John Brown
  • Deep South Food Alliance
  • Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries

Black Belt Marketing and
Innovation Center

The Tuskegee University Black Belt Marketing and Innovation Center (BBMIC) began as an endeavor to address the overarching need for both economic opportunities for agricultural producers and greater availability of fresh produce by developing a produce research facility, aggregation center, and processing incubator located in Selma, AL. The 18,000-square-foot BBMIC serves underserved farmers in the surrounding area by operating as a transformational research center, providing access to equipment for value-added processing, meeting space for training, and office space for Extension professionals. The facility is fully equipped with an inline washing conveyor, sorting tables, grading tables, vacuum packaging equipment, pea shellers, greens spinner, and cold storage. A refrigerated truck is dedicated to the movement of products to and from the facility. The BBMIC facility sits on 30 acres of land where high tunnels have recently been constructed for research and demonstration use. There are plans to expand the growing area to serve as an educational hub for the demonstration of organic practices, conservation practices, and climate-smart technologies for underserved producer communities. There is a tremendous opportunity to expand the BBMIC to become a major research, education, and Extension center in the Black Belt.

In 2023, 12,240 pounds of produce were stored in the cooler from 8 different farms. Cooling produce improves farm economic sustainability by extending the shelf-life of saleable products and reducing waste. About 24,480 servings of collard greens, kale, peas, peppers, turnip greens, okra, and mustard greens fed Black Belt community members through eight market streams including one wholesale distributor, two food banks, three farmers markets, one church, and direct home delivery to the elderly. The refrigerated truck was an essential piece of equipment to distribute pallet quantities of produce. This BBMIC coupled with our other Black Belt Food Corridor initiatives increases farm economic opportunities, improves community access to fresh vegetables, and reduces food waste.

Black Belt Food Corridor
Mini-Grant Program

The Black Belt Food Corridor Mini-grant program was created to address the needs of Black Belt farmers, small food producers, community gardens, and school gardens. Applications will be accepted from Hale, Greene, Sumter, Marengo, Montgomery, Macon, Bullock, Wilcox, Barbour, Lowndes, Dallas, and Perry counties and activities must be relevant to at least one of the following:

  • Advancing economic opportunities for farmers
  • Increasing production
  • Improving land stewardship
  • Reducing food waste
  • Increasing food access

We appreciate the partnership of the Heart of Alabama Food Bank in helping to secure the funding for this pilot project through the Feeding America Equity Impact Fund.

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