This article originally appeared on Vestavia Voice.
Founded in 2007, the Jones Valley Teaching Farm operates six teaching farms on elementary, middle school and high school campuses in the Birmingham City Schools.
JVTF teachers and apprentices — using the Good School Food model — work with students from prekindergarten through 12th grade to help them learn more about farming, healthy food and the culinary arts.
Students grow, harvest, cook and market the produce from their school’s farm, gaining valuable career skills.
“I believe that the power of growing, cooking and sharing food can impact our community in incredible ways,” JVTF Executive Director Amanda Storey said in a news release.
The nonprofit’s efforts will get a big boost soon with a new facility at its downtown campus at 701 25th St. N.
On Oct. 21, the JVTF hosted a groundbreaking downtown for the multi-use Center for Food Education.
Scheduled to open in fall 2021, the center will create a permanent place to host students, teachers and community members from Birmingham and elsewhere.
Birmingham-based ArchitectureWorks will oversee the center’s design.
“The renovated downtown campus will be able to welcome larger class groups and serve as the critical support hub for JVTF’s expanding presence in the city,” said Jay Pigford, a partner at ArchitectureWorks. “The outdoor gathering pavilion, a riff on the traditional farmstead porch, will be in the heart of the campus, welcoming visitors and connecting the interior education spaces to the farm.”
The building will be home to daily fieldtrips, culinary programming and additional training and professional development for teachers and school administrators, as well as more employment opportunities for graduates of Birmingham City Schools.
The project is partly financed with a New Markets Tax Credit allocation provided by Hope Enterprise Corporation and investor Wells Fargo Bank.
The remaining money needed for construction will come through the Ready to Grow campaign, which will officially launch in 2021.
Campaign co-chairs are Pardis Stitt, co-owner of Highlands Bar & Grill and other venues, and Nick Willis, a PNC Bank regional president.
“Using food as a platform to educate, develop workforce readiness, provide economic opportunities and unite communities is a deeply inspiring endeavor,” Willis said. “Jones Valley Teaching Farm is truly changing lives through food.”
Hoar Construction will serve as building partner for the project.
For more information about the organization, call 205-453-7268 or go to jvtf.org.