ARCís Jobs and Local Food Systems Tour Continues in Alabama
A teaching farm, school-based garden programs, a hospital farmers' market, and a culinary business incubator were among the destinations included in ARC's May 13–14 visit to Appalachian Alabama as part of the Commission's ongoing Jobs and Local Food Systems Tour. Launched at the March 20 Appalachia Funders Network Conference, the tour highlights the potential of local food systems to create economic opportunity and grow jobs in the Appalachian Region.
On May 13, ARC Federal Co-Chair Earl Gohl and state and local officials visited Jones Valley Teaching Farm, an urban farm in Birmingham that provides educational programs for students and teachers; and UAB Hospital, to learn about its farmers' market offering seasonal local produce; as well as three elementary-school-based gardens in Fairfield. The tour also included a roundtable discussion on local food systems at the Regional Planning Commission of Greater Birmingham, highlighting innovative local models and successful partnerships in the central Alabama region.
On May 14, the group visited a Florence child-care center that emphasizes healthy eating and use of local foods as part of its early-childhood-education services. The tour then continued to Florence's Shoals Culinary Center, a business incubator for new and growing food-related businesses, to learn about the center's culinary training program for at-risk young adults, tour its commercial kitchen space, and speak with some of its food-entrepreneur clients.