Bounty: Jones Valley Urban Farm

This painting is a tribute to all Alabama small, sustainable farms. I buy fresh food from local farmers whenever possible, and believe this practice to be important for the future of me and my family, our community, and our planet. Sustainability refers to farms that are healthy for the environment, can support themselves financially, and are socially conscientious.

I chose Jones Valley as the representative farm for this painting because it thrives in busy downtown Birmingham, setting a good example of healthy farm practices to many who normally don’t get out in the country or aren’t exposed to the benefits of fresh, organic food. Jones Valley is a non-profit organization that provides outreach programs for students and the local neighborhoods, teaching people first-hand where their food comes from, how to grow it, how it is prepared, and how it tastes. Small garden plots are offered to nearby residents, and money is raised through donations and by selling produce and flowers at local farmer’s markets.

My painting, Bounty, unfolded in an unexpected way. The title came first; I’m originally from Colorado, and after living in Alabama for 15 years, I am still amazed at how many and how well plants grow in Alabama. The several different patterns throughout the piece came about as I attempted to find abstractions of the idea of plenty. I began with botanicals and emerged with a rather kitchen-like appearance, appropriate because my connection with farms and food is most often celebrated in the kitchen.

The background of the center piece uses imagery that reminds me of an opulent palace—a version of abundance—where tiny fruit, veggies, and flowers are displayed on pedestals. Sunflowers are the most eye-popping element of Jones Valley, and I chose to reveal the back side of the flower because I found it visually interesting and a fitting symbol of the unusual urban nature of Jones Valley. The tiles are made from molds of vegetables from my own garden, Jones Valley Urban Farm, and other small local farms. The little farm landscapes are taken from small farms throughout Alabama, and are framed in the aforementioned fancy patterns. The outside of the piece continues and expands the general idea of bounty.

More information on Jones Valley Urban Farm can be found at www.jvuf.org. The Sierra Club, Slow Food, U.S.A, Grow Alabama, and the Alabama Sustainable Farmer’s Network are organizations that educate the public and support sustainable farming.

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