Hello! We’re Jones Valley Teaching Farm. We design and build teaching farms on school campuses and run a food education program called Good School Food in Birmingham City Schools. Our dream is for all students to have a transformative educational experience from the day they begin kindergarten until the day they graduate high school.
2015 was a year of continued growth into new schools. We designed and built two more Farm Labs at K–8 schools; we expanded our program model to grades 9–12 through the construction of Woodlawn High School Urban Farm; and we more than doubled the number of Good School Food Instructors working full time in Birmingham City Schools, giving us the potential to teach and impact more than 4,000 Pre-K–12 students.
Our process for growth is a simple one:
- We work diligently to establish a high level of credibility in our partner schools through a community-driven, student-by-student approach. Learn more about the principles that drive our approach here.
- We analyze, evaluate, and measure our work and progress in schools so that a more reﬁned program begins to emerge.
- We then expand what works through the programs that can maximize student impact.
In December 2015, JVTF completed construction of Woodlawn High School Urban Farm, a ﬁrst-of-its-kind farm education center behind Woodlawn High School. The education center includes a classroom, greenhouse, produce processing station, cold storage, and oﬃce space, and it serves as the anchor for our state-accredited science classes and student-run food business.
Students will turn classroom discoveries into community action by managing an intensive small-scale farm system behind their school. The farm will grow a diverse variety of fruits, vegetables, and ﬂowers, providing a direct access point to fresh produce in their community.
We believe students should learn science by doing science, so we collaborate with Woodlawn High School to teach state-accredited environmental science and biology classes using Woodlawn High School Urban Farm as the primary platform for instruction.
Woodlawn High School students will research, develop, and launch their own food business through a for-credit co-op model. Stay tuned for the 2016 launch date.
from 2014 to 2015
On a 100-point scale, GSF students have improved by an average of 24.5 percentage points between pre- and post-educational assessments measuring standards-based content.
After participating in after-school Farm Lab and Farmers Market Clubs, 78% of students reported “succeeding in doing things I didn’t know I could do.”
Since the launch of GSF, students have sold more than 4,200 pounds of fruits and veggies to their communities through student farmers markets.
During GSF instruction in the classroom and in Farm Labs, 98% of students tried new fruits and vegetables.
During GSF instruction in the classroom and in Farm Labs, 83% of students said they liked the fruits and vegetables they tried.
During GSF instruction in the classroom and in Farm Labs, 80% of students said they would eat the fruits and vegetables again.
In Revenue from Our Downtown Farm
Beehives Managed on Our Downtown Farm
of Produce Harvested from Our Teaching Farms
We’re honored to collaborate and work with a diverse community of students, teachers, administrators, and parents through Good School Food. These are a few of their stories.
Readus is a 7th-grade student and one of Farm Lab’s most enthusiastic advocates. A member of both Farmers Market and Farm Lab Clubs, Readus works in Farm Lab after school, planting, harvesting, and selling produce. Recently he wrote and submitted a proposal to his school administrators requesting permission to keep chickens. When asked what he wanted his friends and fellow students to get out of Farm Lab, Readus said:
“I want them to experience the fun of farming, and the different foods and tastes. The fun of farming is the growing of the plants, which could benefit you. Like carrots. You grow the carrots, and it’s pretty fun because you get to either pull them out of the ground or dig them out. Or with beans… when you’re looking through to harvest them, it’s like a scavenger hunt. You get to see insects, like some cool spiders, maybe beetles. But the best part to all of that is eating it, because it’s very good.”
Family Kitchen is our cooking and nutrition program that brings students and their families into Farm Labs to cook simple, healthy meals together. Valencia King, a mother and volunteer at Avondale Elementary, said:
“It was a great experience. The fact that I can prepare something in less than five minutes and it tastes good made the event really special. My son actually loved the food. It’s hard to prepare a five-minute healthy meal. It [Family Kitchen] was relaxing, calm, and helpful. The instructor was easygoing and she taught us a lot. It surprised me because the meal was really flavorful. It was my best experience thus far with Jones Valley. We got really familiar with the farm.”
We worked with a small group of Woodlawn High School students in the months leading up to the launch of our Woodlawn High School program. Trey, a Gates Millennium Scholar and current freshman at Howard College, talks about Woodlawn High School Urban Farm:
“The farm is more than just a pretty plot in our backyard. It resembles more that of a dinner table, bringing our school family closer together with the one thing we all love: food! The farm plays a pivotal role in the overall success of the school due to its innovation of project-based learning and emphasis on the importance of good nutrition. Healthier students are more productive students; productive students have a global impact.”
We first worked with Scotty Feltman at Avondale Elementary, where he taught 5th grade for seven years. Now Scotty is our Woodlawn High School Urban Farm Program Director, teaching science classes and developing our WHS program, anchored by the urban farm.
“What has always drawn me to farming is the correlation between working hard and seeing something grow as a result. This is the same exact thing that drew me to the field of education. JVTF’s impact in my own classroom was the opportunity for students to get their hands dirty and immerse themselves in the science of the natural world. I’ve been in education for eight years and one of the biggest issues I’ve faced is the struggle to find truly effective and engaging ways to involve students in meaningful hands-on education. Farm Labs are designed to fill this void. They provide teachers with an easily accessible tool where cross-curricular education is natural. JVTF models project-based learning and works with educators to connect farm- and food-based lessons to state standards in fun and meaningful ways. In Farm Labs, learning is inevitable and student excitement and involvement are natural outcomes.”
Staﬀ: We begin and end with our people. Investing in our staﬀ is like investing in high-performing and thoughtful teachers, curriculum coaches, or principals. Eighty-three percent of our staff delivers Good School Food or works on our teaching farms, directly implementing our programs and impacting students. Teaching Farm Growth: We designed and built two new Farm Labs and Woodlawn High School Urban Farm. Our teaching farms are our most signiﬁcant physical investment in schools, and they provide us with the long-term resources we need to impact students. Programs: Since the launch of Good School Food, we’ve worked diligently to reﬁne our annual cost-of-delivery structure at each school, including production, curriculum development, and teaching and cooking supplies. While our work is driven by people, everyday tools and resources are just as important. Development: We invest in strategic initiatives and events that increase revenue and grow our overall ﬁnancial resources. General Ops: These costs include everything from rent to insurance to utilities and technology. Covering these costs allows us to function as a day-to-day office and provides our staff with the resources they need to succeed.
We develop strategies within the following four funding categories in order to maintain a balanced yet growth-oriented revenue model. Anchor: In 2013, JVTF received its first significant multi-year grant: a $1 million gift over three years to grow the Good School Food program. Since receiving this grant, Good School Food has grown from one to seven schools, proving that we can translate nonprofit seed money into growth and results. Our goal is to secure a second multi-year anchor investor. Local Base: In 2015, JVTF maintained strong relationships and annual partnerships with more than 15 local corporate and foundation donors, securing our position as a highly relevant and effective organization within Birmingham’s broader philanthropic network. Over the next two years, our goal is to continue to manage this funding category at 20 to 30% of JVTF’s total annual revenue. Federal/National/State: In 2015, our goal was to increase funding opportunities outside of Birmingham, which resulted in this funding category growing from 11% of our total annual revenue in 2014 to 29% in 2015. Over the next two years, we plan to secure a major research grant and one to two new national foundation partners. Be Entrepreneurial: In 2015, JVTF continued to create unique giving experiences through high-quality, demand-driven events and fundraising initiatives. This category has generated more than $1.1 million in revenue over the past three years. Over the next two years, we will continue to manage this funding category at 30% of our total annual revenue.
Amanda Storey – Executive Director
Katie Davis – Farm Director
Zoe Burgess – Good School Food Director
Scotty Feltman – WHS Urban Farm Program Director
Snehal Desai Bajaj – Curriculum Specialist
Stella Pfau – Curriculum Writer
Jesse Schaﬀer – Farm Manager
Heather Helman – Assistant Farm Manager
Mary Beth Brown – Development Fellow
Caroline Mortensen – Design Fellow
Leroy Abrahams – Social Business Fellow (WHS)
Brittany Ragland – GSF Instructor (Glen Iris Elementary)
Rachel Spraos – GSF Instructor (Glen Iris Elementary)
Alyssa Dalos – GSF Instructor (Oliver Elementary)
Elena Harmon – GSF Instructor (Oliver Elementary)
Caralee Sadler – GSF Instructor (Avondale Elementary)
Ann Laurel Latimer – GSF Instructor (Avondale Elementary)
Leah Hillman – GSF Instructor (Putnam Middle)
Haley Crockett – GSF Instructor (Putnam Middle)
Lakiah Clark – GSF Instructor (Hayes K–8)
Meagan Lyle – GSF Instructor (Hayes K–8)
Karen Schauwecker – GSF Instructor (Hayes K–8)
Dylan Black – Bradley Arant Boult & Cummings
Brian Bucher – PNC
Robin Burgess – Community Supporter
Kate Cotton – Protective Life
Trey Echols – Highland Associates, Inc.
Braxton Goodrich – Goodrich Foundation/Timberline Investments
Marie Jemison – Princeton Elementary School
Mike Moss – Regions Bank
Leroy Nix – Alabama Power
Nick Pihakis – Jim ‘N Nicks BBQ / Fresh Hospitality
Taylor Pursell – New Fertilizer Technologies
Christiana Roussel – Community Supporter
Frank Stitt – Highlands Bar & Grill / Bottega / Chez Fonfon
Mashonda Taylor – Woodlawn United
Jerone Wiggins – Putnam Middle
Alabama Power Foundation
Alabama State Department of Education
Appalachian Regional Commission
Benevolent Order of the Long Table
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama
Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham
Daniel Foundation of Alabama
Estelle S. Campbell Foundation
Gather Dinner Hosts
Hugh Kaul Foundation
James Rushton I Foundation
Mike & Gillian Goodrich Foundation
Newman’s Own Foundation
Protective Life Foundation
Sysco of Central Alabama
UAB Community Health Innovation Awards
USDA Farm to School
USDA Community Food Project
Birmingham City School System
Birmingham Education Foundation
Birmingham Planning and Zoning
Cary Norton Photography
Corporation for National & Community Service
End Child Hunger in Alabama
Farm Food Collaborative
Father Nature Landscaping
Jeﬀerson County Collaborative For Health Equity
Jeﬀerson County Health Action Partnership
Jim ‘N Nick’s Community BBQ
Leaf N Petal
Oak Ridge Park Neighborhood Association
Time Inc. Food Studios
UAB School of Education
UAB School of Preventative Medicine
UAB School of Public Health