One sight you don’t expect to see in the middle of a city is a farm, but that’s exactly where we found ourselves when we made our next stop at Jones Valley Teaching Farm in Birmingham, Alabama.
This 3-acre urban teaching farm is surrounded by the Birmingham skyline, a neighborhood park, the YMCA Youth Center, an active railway that historically transported steel, mixed-income apartments, and an overpass where two of the city’s busiest highways connect.
Jones Valley Teaching Farm was originally created to provide access to fresh produce in an urban setting. We met with staff and learned about how the program has grown over the years and were impressed that through a partnership with Birmingham City Schools they now have six additional farms on school campuses where teachers, students, and parents can experience hands-on learning.
The knowledgeable instructors and farm staff offer classes tied to math, science, social studies, and English, as well as oversee after-school programs like student-run farmers markets and culinary clubs. We even met seven high school juniors and seniors working on the farm for course credit through a paid internship program. One of our favorite parts about this program is that it benefits pre-K through 12th graders, so students can get involved early and stick with it their entire school career.