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Will Travel for Food: HM&F visits Jones Valley Urban Farm

Posted 11/29/2009 2:33pm by Bill Pastellak.

Earlier this week before the mass exodus of the impending holiday traffic a few of the staff members made a quick trip to Birmingham, AL to check out a similar project: Jones Valley Urban Farm. JVUF’s main urban farm is located downtown just a few blocks (maybe less) away from the interstate. It was an incredibly beautiful drive — only about 6 hours — into what I forget is the foothills of the Appalachians. Much cooler than here but still above the average temperatures for this time of year we arrived late in the evening to stay with the farm manager of the downtown site. After we had stretched our legs and brought our baggage inside, we walked through the towns’ five points to a tasty Indian restaurant, Taj India, for a delicious meal of Sag Paneer, curried mixed veg, curried Lamb, and curried Goat. Katie, the farm manager, was interested to see how we might hold up on the walk back as we were all dressed in shorts and flip flops –completely underprepared–I think we were just happy to brisk cool air between our toes.

After the walk back to house, we sat around the living room discussing food (of course) and food politics (naturally) especially those concerning the disturbing movement of industrial nations buying up insanely large amounts of land in Ethiopia to have enough food supply for their own nation(s). Check out the article on NY Times: Agr0-Imperialism. Soon the conversation started to dwindle as we became enveloped in the soft velvety sofa.

Birmingham has a rich history thanks to the railroad and its transportation of these naturally occurring deposits of iron ore, coal, and limestone. Birmingham is the only place in the world where all three minerals can be found in such close proximity. Let’s not also forget that it was home to the turmoil of 60’s & 70’s as one of they key points in our nation where Martin Luther King Jr. fought to end segregation.

The next morning we woke with sore backs as we passed out nearly mid-conversation from the long day of traveling the day before to meet with the program director of JVUF where through the morning and into early afternoon we discussed both projects, their histories, and  JVUF’s programming. Here’s a few key points:

The mission of JVUF is to provide access to fresh healthy local foods to the surrounding communities and teach the youth of Birmingham about sustainable agriculture as well as nutrition through experiential learning. JVUF offers over 9 programs that are geared towards a greater understanding our fresh fruit and veg by providing a variety of different ways to get involved: Wanna start your own community garden? They have program for that. Wanna intern on a farm for the summer? They have that too. The most popular program they offer is Seed 2 Plate where students engage in an interdisciplinary program with a different theme. Each session has an agriculture component (in the field), a nutrition lesson, and culinary lesson provided by dietitians, chefs, and teachers in the surrounding and greater Birmingham community.

HM&F made the trip because it was a chance to connect with another project similar to ours and for inspiration concerning developing programs that will benefit not only the youth but as well as adults of the Hollygrove neighborhood. If we could– we would have stayed a few days longer to check the other farm sites as well as some the most beautiful countryside that you may ever see in the South. Hopefully in the future we may see some collaboration between HM&F and the JVUF. Pictures to follow soon.

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

Just a reminder: We will NOT be open Saturday November 28th.

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