Jones Valley Teaching Farm broke ground Wednesday on a new Center for Food Education at its farm site in downtown Birmingham.
The center will serve as a hub for education about food and farming for the nonprofit organization, which has a history of teaching students how to grow food and why it’s important, using the lessons also to encourage young people in leadership skills. Classes are taught at six Birmingham schools.
“I believe that the power of growing, cooking and sharing food can impact our community in incredible ways,” said Amanda Storey, executive director of Jones Valley Teaching Farm. “The Center for Food Education will be a place to gather and teach, experience and celebrate, and grow — quite literally — together as a community. I’m thrilled to share our work with a larger audience and to have a place we can call home as we build our organization and our city’s future.”
The center is slated to open in the fall of 2021.
ArchitectureWorks of Birmingham is handling design of the new facility and Hoar Construction is responsible for building.
“Following almost 15 years of partnership with Jones Valley Teaching Farm, we are excited to revisit the original downtown site and break ground on this expansion,” says Jay Pigford, a partner at ArchitectureWorks. ”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. 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 project is funded with New Markets Tax Credit funds through Hope Enterprise Corporation and investor Wells Fargo. Additional support is being raised through a Ready to Grow fund set to kick off early next year, led by restaurateur Pardis Stitt and PNC Bank regional president Nick Willis.
“Using food as a platform to educate, develop workforce readiness, provide economic opportunities, and unite communities is a deeply inspiring endeavor,” says Willis, who also serves on the JVTF board. “Jones Valley Teaching Farm is truly changing lives through food, and the Ready to Grow campaign is essential to expanding their impact.”