At Shipt, we’re passionate about making sure our members get the freshest produce available. It’s one of the many reasons we’re so inspired by the mission of Jones Valley Teaching Farm. Growing a garden can be tricky, but thankfully our friends at the farm are here to help. Whether you’ve already got a green thumb or have yet to plant your first seed, the farmers at Jones Valley can help answer any and all gardening questions you may have.
About Jones Valley Teaching Farm
This amazing organization works directly with local Birmingham schools to provide food and nutrition education. They highlight the importance of experiential education and healthy eating.
Although the farm has several remote locations, their home base occupies one block in downtown Birmingham, Alabama. Urban Farm Manager, Jesse, and Good School Food Director, Zoe, gave us a tour of the plot and shared the organization’s community work, produce tips, and scenic view of the city farm life.
“This time of the year you are going to find a lot of arugulas, heirloom tomatoes, eggplant, and a large array of flowers in our garden,” reported Jesse. s He also told us the best time to start prepping for a gardening season would be an average of two to four weeks before the season hits. “You’ll want to plant your seeds before the season hits, so you aren’t playing catch-up.”
The farm also offers the community the option to donate in exchange for a small plot of farmland. Jesse explained that most plots are owned by families who like to garden with their children. It also allows those with limited yard space an opportunity to grow their own gardens. “We grow the plants and a little extra for the families to use in their personal gardens,” said Jesse. “We have these community garden plant-out days in the spring and fall where they can learn to plant and care for their gardens.”
And finally, Jesse shared his three best tips for summertime gardening.
Summer Produce Tips from an Urban Farmer
- Don’t underestimate the power of water
“People underestimate how important it is to water and place your plants in sunlight. There are three things a plant needs. Water, sunlight, and soil. If you’re missing one of these, it’s most likely not going to work out. It seems very basic and logical, but that is all it takes to keep your plant alive.”
- New farmers should start with herbs
“Herbs are a good starter plant. You just need a pot of soil, water, and sunlight. It’s not technical, and there is a huge taste difference in comparison store-bought herbs. Herbs like tarragon, sage, mint, and rosemary are very simple and hard to kill. Others like, cilantro or dill, are a little more difficult because they are not year-round produce.”
- Never leave soil unattended
“We like to always have something growing in the soil after gathering crops from the land. Since the sun is so harsh in the summer, it is good to keep the soil full of life. It also adds nutrients to the soil.”
Have additional questions for the farmers at Jones Valley? Ask them in the comments below!