After-school markets are popping up all over the country and as we all know, each school, neighborhood, city, and state can be very different and will respond to their needs accordingly. So this means that after-school markets tend to look a little different depending on the model that best fits that community. The same is true in Birmingham. Though I’m only highlighting two local after-school markets in this post,  I’m sure there are others so please post dates/times in the comments section if I didn’t include your market. My favorite part about an after-school market is that it a can do many things in a short window of time: provide affordable, fresh produce to teachers, residents, and students alike. After-school markets can also teach kids financial literacy, introduce community gardens to neighborhood schools, support interns, and provide an outlet for urban farms, community gardens, or school gardens to sell their produce.

Let’s talk markets, shall we?

Jones Valley Teaching Farm
Jones Valley Teaching Farm’s student-run after-school market is a great example of an urban/teaching farm partnering with a specific school (Glen Iris Elementary). They work very closely with teachers and students and are supported by community partners like Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham and PNC Bank. This after- school market model has the 5th graders running the show!

Not only is there mentoring happening between 5th graders and 4th graders (the 4th graders are eager to take over the market once the 5th graders graduate), but the students are learning about math, science, and agriculture as well. They call it the Good School Food Project and you can read more about that here.

What made me excited to write about this subject in my post tonight was a recent update from Jones Valley Teaching Farm on Facebook today, which said, “It is Market Day tomorrow @ Glen Iris Elementary! This week we are not only featuring Jones Valley produce but Snows Bend Farm’s hakurei turnips and okra with Habersham Farm tomatoes. Come join us at 2:30 pm.” So please do me a favor and support these kids especially if you live near Glen Iris!
When: Tuesdays, 2:30 pm
Where: Glen Iris Elementary School
Address: 1115 11th Street South  Birmingham, AL 35205
Please also “like” Jones Valley Teaching Farm on Facebook so that you can keep up with the market schedule by clicking here. And also, be sure to check out their new website by clicking here.

We Community Gardens After School Market at Hemphill Elementary
The second after-school market I want to highlight is one very near and dear to my heart. We Community Gardens after school market at Hemphill Elementary is a partnership between a community garden, a neighborhood school just one block from the garden, and community partners like United Way of Central Alabama’s Healthy Kids, Healthy Communities and Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham. We Community Gardens interns run the market every Wednesday and provide affordable, fresh produce to West End neighbors (they also run another market earlier in the day at Princeton Hospital).

This market is a great example of how schools can partner with local resources (in this case a community garden in the same neighborhood) to provide fresh food access to neighbors, teachers, and students. Speaking of students, every Wednesday there is usually a piece of fruit priced at 25 cents. The last day for this market is fast approaching as the season ends this Wednesday (15th). I hope to see many of you there!
What: We Community Garden After School Market at Hemphill Elementary
When: Wednesday, November 15th
Time: 2:00-3:30 pm
Location: 714 12th Street Southwest  Birmingham, AL 35211

There are plenty of lessons learned as we make our way through the first year (e.g. profitability, sustainability, and everything else that comes with the territory).  I’m excited to see where both of these markets go in the future and anxious to hear from all of you so we can add more markets to this list.

Now don’t forget to make some time to stop by both markets this week if you can. I know they’d appreciate seeing you. Most importantly, spread the word with folks you know who live/work near Glen Iris and Hemphill Elementary Schools!