From the rooftops of Washington D.C. to the schoolyards of New Orleans, the South is home to some of the country’s most innovative urban farms that are helping teach students about healthy eating, giving their cities access to local produce and eliminating blight from their communities. Here are our favorites.
Jones Valley Teaching Farm
We have a soft spot for Birmingham’s Jones Valley Teaching Farm. The South’s most dynamic urban farm is investing in one of the South’s most beleaguered cities by empowering thousands of young students to change their lives. With vegetables. They’re involved in every part of the process from growing to harvesting and even selling their produce at the downtown farmers market.
Frustrated with the ability for schools and restaurants to get food more efficiently from hundreds of miles away than nearby, founder Sarah Johnson is helping Nashville build an infrastructure that’s efficient in providing local produce by connecting farmers with wholesalers and unused urban land.
Edible Schoolyard New Orleans
Chef and activist Alice Waters installed her national program The Edible Schoolyard at New Orleans’ Green Charter School soon after it was one of the first schools to open after Hurricane Katrina. Now the organization operates gardens at five different schools that help show hundreds of students how to grow and cook their own produce.
With 64 million square feet of commercial rooftop space in Washington D.C., Rooftop Roots is moving the local food movement on up, literally. From lettuce to snap peas, the produce grown by the organization’s student and adult participants is sold at area farmers markets and is turning the city’s skyline green.