There was plenty of crimson, white, blue, and gold throughout Miami during the weekend before the BCS College Football Championship game. That includes the inner city neighborhood of Overtown, where botanical flowers in the team colors of Alabama and Notre Dame were planted in an urban garden built by fans of both schools. “I think someone at Alabama ‘Googled’ black Miami, and I’ve written about black Miami, ” said Dr. Marvin Dunn, head of Roots in The City, which helped coordinate the volunteer community service effort.
Workers wearing t-shirts with slogans supporting both schools laid long rows of cinder blocks in a vacant lot in Overtown. Soil was carried, bucket by bucket, and dumped between the rows of blocks which were then painted in the team’s colors. The garden will also include fresh produce for residents of the low income neighborhood.
“When I saw it, I knew it was something I had to do,” said Alabama graduate Robert Bolden. “I mean, if we’re coming down here to party for the national championship, we should do something for the community.” Bolden “stuck out in a crowd” with his Crimson Tide dew rag tied around his head. John Callahan wore a t-shirt bearing the slogan “cheer, cheer, for old Notre Dame” from the school’s fight song. He and Bolden are hauling the cinder blocks which form the frame of the garden. “I think it’s awesome,” says Callahan. “What these two schools have in common , and the reason they’re such great institutions is both give back. And, it to do it together is kind of fun.”
For Marvin Dunn and Roots in the City, today’s project represents more than just fun. The urban urban garden includes fresh vegetables as well as flowers in Alabama and Notre Dame team colors. The Overtown neighborhood is considered a “food desert,” meaning there are no local grocery stores. Residents often have to travel two miles to shop for food. “Most people who live here are poor,” says Dunn. “A lot of them are single families with kids, or elderly folks, who can’t afford produce. So, we’re trying to get them to get away from buying produce in cans, and make it available to them fresh from the garden, so they can go from garden to table.” The vegetables from the Overtown urban garden will be provided free of charge to local families, ensuring that produce, as well as flowers in crimson, white, blue, and gold will grow in Miami long after the cheers from tonight’s BCS game fade away.