UAB Student, Iraq Vet Hopes to Help Feed Black Belt with Aquaponics

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Ramon Jeter was raised by a single mother on the west side of Birmingham. Right out of Ramsay High School he joined the Navy. He eventually served as a field medic in Iraq. Now the married new father is studying public health at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and he’s been accepted to Clinton Global Initiative University for his ambitious “Home Town Grown” proposal to fight food insecurity and poverty in Alabama’s Black Belt. He plans to do it through aquaponics. WBHM’s Dan Carsen speaks with Jeter, who says his professor Henna Budhwani inspires him and credits his motivation to his mom.

Listen above. Key excerpts are below.


He Gets Some Of It From His Mother

“Her pet peeve — she would always say, ‘I don’t like to see anyone hungry,’ so when I was a kid, when she’d pack my lunch, she would always pack an extra sandwich, chips, and soda just in case someone there didn’t have food. So I guess it’s something that’s always been in me.”

Overwhelming Even For A Former War Medic

“It’s still surreal … I … I, uhm … I still can’t take it all in.” (Listen from 1:25.)

The Point Of It All

“The main goal is to help reduce poverty, some of the food insecurities, and then from there … bring in some dietitians or nurses from the area or the schools and show the community how to prepare healthy foods with these crops and the fish.”

Two Potential Benefits

“You’ll be able to grow tomatoes in the middle of December or January … [and have] produce warehouses built, bring in different types restaurants [and] grocery stores, build their economy. And from there, who knows?”

Thinking Long Term

“As far as I can see, yes, this seems like it’s going to be my life’s work.”