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Sunday, May 30, 2010

Bringing Farmers Together

Naomi James and Wayne Stevens are two cattle farmers located just a half an hour from each other. They met for the first time yesterday at Wayne's farm just outside of The Village of Tangipahoa, Louisiana. Wayne is one of a few cattle farmers in the state actively making the shift to sustainable production. Naomi is one of the last African-American and female dairy farmers in the state. On land purchased by her father almost 70 years ago, she raises cattle for beef and dairy. Here, you can see the two of them sharing the tricks and struggles of the trade, finding ways to be of support to one another.

We've been working together for just a few months now, sending OSBG interns and service learners up to work on their farms, growing food, herding cattle, caring for baby chicks, fixing fence, the list goes on. As part of Food Justice Summer, hundreds of highschool and college students from Louisiana and across the country will spend time working with Naomi, Wayne and other farmers across Louisiana, learning about bottom-up community organizing and growing a whole lot of food. It was clear by Naomi and Wayne's excitement to finally connect that we've all reached the beginning of a really important relationship. Imagine a future where farmers across the delta know each other and are working together to make their farms and our food system whole again.


Thursday, May 27, 2010

From the Ground Up

Food Justice Summer is underway with young people from throughout the country converging on New Orleans and Our School at Blair Grocery to further our work towards achieving a sustainable and food secure Lower Ninth Ward that empowers young people to be the change they want to see in the world.

Last Wednesday students from the Youth Coalition for Community Action from Wesleyan University and Mount Holyoke College arrived and began their work. Yesterday they were joined by students from NYU, Green Mountain College, Clark Atlanta University and Pitzer College bringing the total number to 35 (and still growing).

We began this morning with Our composting workshop. Leading the workshop, Brennan Dougherty, Our Farm Manager and Farming Teacher, and Kyle Meador Our Director of Educational Programs challenged the service-learning students to examine the parallels between growing good food and growing a strong movement, starting "from the ground up".

Like bottom-up organizing, growing good food starts with building good soil with persistant collaboration, mutually beneficial relationships and a lot of hard work. Compostng happens in layers (green-brown-green-brown). We liken this layering to the manner in which movements must use a systems-thinking approach that addresses the compounding "layers" of challenges that have detrimental effects on our communities.

How do you build soil to grow good food? How do you build a successful movement for social change?

From the Ground Up!!!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Agriculture Day at "The Village"

Students from McDonogh 32 Elementary Charter School in Algiers check out a chicken held by Cory Ashby of Our School at Blair Grocery, an alternative school in the Lower Ninth Ward that maintains a flock of 50 chickens, during Agriculture Day at "The Village", the Ovah Da River Folklife Village, in Algiers Point Wednesday, May 12, 2010. Students from several Algiers Charter Schools rotated through different educational stations manned by representatives from a variety of groups including the Louisiana Department of Agriculture, Southern University Agriculture Center, the New Orleans Food and Farm Network, and others. Students learned about the origins of local agriculture, the effect man has on the watershed, practical ways to grow plants and provided an upclose look at several different farm animals including chickens and rabbits.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


Will Allen was recently named one of the Time Magazine Top 100 Most Influential People of 2010. Here is a link to the article:,28804,1984685_1984949_1985243,00.html