Remembering J.D. Green


It is with great sadness we mourn the loss of one of Houston’s greatest gardeners, Mr. J.D. Green.  J.D. led Alabama Gardens in Third Ward for decades, sharing gardening wisdom, feeding the elderly, and cultivating community.  While such is a time for grieving, it is also a time to celebrate the life of a man who left this world better than he found it.

                                        J.D. Green: Volunteer, Leader, Mentor, Friend

I’m asked to write something short about one of the most important food activists this city has ever known. It’s hard to know what to say. In 1985 while area hunger was growing rapidly, brothers Voydell and Verious Smith together with their friend Warren Christian started a community garden on a then overgrown, trash-strewn lot on Alabama Street in Third Ward. They kept at it with agreement from the TSU landowners, and along the way enlisted Mr. J.D. Green. As the founders gradually passed away and as Houston’s oldest vacant lot garden expanded to one of the largest and became productive year-round, JD took over more and more of the leadership and mentoring tasks of new gardeners. If that were all he did for us, that would be an enormous accomplishment. But it wasn’t. Dozens of times JD volunteered to explain the concept, its benefits, and the process to anyone wanting to duplicate the effort elsewhere either by building a similar garden, funding one, or writing about it. Robert Greenleaf wrote in his famous essay, The Servant as Leader that servant-­‐leaders want to serve first and are sharply different from a person who leads because they want power or perks. Servant-­‐leaders focus on serving other peoples’ highest needs like becoming healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, or better able to become servant leaders themselves. Servant leaders care about their effect on colleagues, communities, and society’s least privileged. JD was such a leader, and as Alabama Community Gardens reaches 40 years old in 4 years, his legacy will hopefully be many more community gardeners like JD across a caring and healthier city.

To get a sense of JD in action, see the 1999 interview video link at the Texas Environmental Legacy archives

Bob Randall, Ph.D. 

Urban Harvest founding Executive Director (1994-2008) 

The Greater Houston Community Garden Family has again lost one its champions J.D. Green. For over 30 yrs he has been a gardener and Coordinator of Alabama Gardens. His passion for growing, teaching and sharing fresh organic fruits and vegetables consumed much of his spare time especially after he retired. He deeply cared about his family, friends community and church. His contributions to urban
gardening in the Houston area will always be remembered. He has been my friend and mentor for over 25 yrs. Thanks J.D. for your commitment to the 3rd Ward area and Alabama Garden my friend. R.I.P.

Terry Garner
Friend & member of Alabama Gardens