Young minds bloom on an urban farm
May 20th, 2013
03:15 PM ET
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Editor's note: The Southern Foodways Alliance delves deep in the history, tradition, heroes and plain old deliciousness of Southern food. Today's contributor, Emilie Dayan, writes a weekly SFA blog series called "Sustainable South" about food and the environment, nutrition, food access, food justice, agricultural issues and food politics.

In recent years, there has been a lot of talk about urban agriculture and the solution it provides for sustainable and healthy living. The Jones Valley Teaching Farm (JVTF) in Birmingham, Alabama, however, is much more than an urban farm. Their vision is to educate 10,000 Birmingham children annually.

The project started in 2007 as the Jones Valley Urban Farm, when the organization transformed three and a half acres of vacant downtown property into an agricultural oasis. The mission was to make the downtown Birmingham community a healthier place. Soon, the farm’s educational programs proved to be the most relevant of all the organization’s initiatives. As a result, the leadership shifted the focus of the farm and changed the name.

Today, it is the Jones Valley Teaching Farm, and it is a place where young minds blossom. By connecting young people to their food, and helping them understand where it comes from, the JVTF believes that future generations will be empowered to eat smarter, think healthier, and live better.

The JVTF works with parents, principals, and teachers to provide educational programs that are responsive to the needs of 21st century learners. This school year, JVTF built a "farm lab" at Glen Iris Elementary School with the help of a design fellow from the Rural Studio and piloted its "Good School Food" curriculum. As part of the program, fifth graders developed a business plan and ran a farmer's market at the school, selling 1,000 pounds of produce from the on-campus farm lab.

JVTF has developed hands-on, standards-based enrichment kits that will be distributed in eight Birmingham elementary and middle schools in 2013-2014. These kits provide the materials and resources needed for students to work in small teams, developing skills such as problem solving, critical thinking and communication - all relating to food systems and nutrition. The JVTF also provides field-based education to students so they can actively participate in the learning process.

If the farm’s produce is any indication, the JVTF is planting seeds that will grow into a vibrant and healthy young generation in the Birmingham community.

Read more at the Southern Foodways Alliance's blog

Why women and kids should farm
Random acts of farming and hope
Does it matter who grew your food?
Who are you calling 'rich'? A small farmer shares some hard data
Where does your grocery money go? Mostly not to the farmers
Opinion: My family farm isn't under "corporate control"
Farmers aren't evil. Now can we have a civil conversation?
What should a 'local' farm (and farmer) look like?
Start a conversation with a farmer

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soundoff (6 Responses)
  1. Private personal training

    I love this! but are they worried about environmental pollution from the nearby city? Video won’t play.

    January 28, 2014 at 9:15 pm |
  2. Slocavore

    Only asking because I want to share with my friends, but I don't want to promote anything that isn't organic.

    May 20, 2013 at 3:48 pm |
  3. Slocavore

    Is it organically grown??

    May 20, 2013 at 3:47 pm |
    • Kat Kinsman

      It is organic:

      May 21, 2013 at 12:20 am |
      • Slocavore


        May 21, 2013 at 8:53 pm |
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