Stillman to kick-start MLK weekend with health and wellness event

Graphic flyer for commnuity garden block party
Block Party will include food trucks, healthy cooking demos & health screenings


TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – The public is invited to attend the Community Garden Block Party at Stillman College, a free health and wellness event, on Jan. 15.

The Block Party is an outgrowth of the college’s campus-based community garden that launched last spring. The garden is a pillar of a larger plan to build a sustainable, healthy Stillman community, which, in turn, engages and educates the surrounding community about growing food, cooking healthy, and exercising.

The Block Party will cover a wide spectrum of health and wellness activities for community members, from cooking demonstrations and health screenings, to exercise classes taught by Stillman students and faculty. The Block Party begins at 10 a.m. and runs through 2 p.m. Saturday on Stillman’s campus:

  • Opening ceremony (Amphitheater): 10 a.m. – 10:15 a.m.
  • Health Screenings (Johnson-Robinson Building): 10:15 a.m. – 1:45 p.m.
  • Cooking Demonstration (Greek Row): 11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
  • Complimentary Food (Greek Row) 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.
  • Exercise for Seniors (Cordell Wynn Center): 12:30 p.m. – 1:45 p.m.
  • Closing Ceremony (Amphitheater): 1:50 p.m. – 2 p.m.

“We’re beyond excited for both our campus and Tuscaloosa Community to take part in the Block Party,” said Mason Bonner, director of Community Relations at Stillman College. “We’ve had incredible engagement from numerous agencies and partner organizations to help this come together and create opportunities to help people live healthy lifestyles.”

The Community Garden project task force formed more than two years ago and corralled numerous partners to get the garden prepped and planted last spring. The Alabama Cooperative Extension Service provided soil testing, while Tuscaloosa County Park and Recreation Authority and the Sierra Club’s West Alabama Group provided soil and seeds for the first crop bed that grew in April 2021. Stillman students harvested hot peppers, tomatoes, collards, cucumbers and strawberries that May.

An African American man tends to a vegetable garden
Mason Bonner, director of community relations for Stillman College, observes recent growth of vegetables at the community garden on Stillman’s campus.

“After that, we decided to do a winter garden with collards and broccoli,” Bonner said. “Our idea was to build an outdoor kitchen at the garden site. And, as our green house on campus is renovated, the goal for the future is to start plants there and then transplant them to the garden.”

The garden will soon be relocated to a Stillman-owned property adjacent to campus that is easily accessible to community members and has more area to grow the garden. Bonner said the outdoor kitchen will be constructed at this property.

Bonner said the Community Garden’s wellness partners, like Love Grows Here and Maude Whatley Health, will be vital in growing and maintaining the health education and services component of the program. The two organizations will provide screening for blood pressure, blood glucose, and height and weight, as well as flu and COVID vaccinations at the Block Party.

“Health screenings are free and easy at the Block Party,” said Dr. Alan Heins, emergency medicine physician and co-founder of non-profit Love Grows Here. “Checking height, weight, vision, blood pressure and blood glucose can help improve your health. You may also be able to fix problems early.”

Covid-19 precaution

Participants must be vaccinated to enter campus and will be screened for body temperature upon arrival at the front gate.

Directions to Stillman College

  • Stillman College is located at 3601 Stillman Blvd. in Tuscaloosa. Only the main entrance at the intersection with 38th Avenue is open.
  • Parking is readily available across the Street from the Wynn Center on Stillman’s campus.

map with directions to Stillman College