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Sunday, October 31, 2010

Field Trips to OSBG

On October 23rd, two of our afterschool program students brought their advisory groups from KIPP Renaissance School for a morning at OSBG. Dontrell and Keishunn introduced their classmates to our land at 1800 Benton, our vermicompost, our flat compost and "Volcano" compost pile, and the whole sprouts cycle - from sifting soil to harvesting trays.

They then led workshops for their peers in composting soil and seeding trays for sprouts. Even the most hesitant left with some soil under their fingernails - thanks, y'all.

Later that day, we welcomed Majora Carter, who interviewed staff and students and spent time tasting sprouts and sifting soil. Turner and Our School at Blair Grocery will be part of Majora's radio show The Promised Land, which focuses on "men and women with innovative ideas about changing lives and transforming communities."

Majora's idea that "you shouldn't have to move out of your neighborhood to live in a better one" resonates powerfully with us, here in the Lower Ninth Ward. What OSBG students and staff are growing every day is just that - a movement towards a food system that supports the positive and sustaining network of our community.

To learn more about field trip opportunities to Our School at Blair Grocery, contact Kyle Meador, Director of Education Programs, or 916-849-9866.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

OSBG and the Community Food Security Coalition Conference

During the Community Food Security Coalition's 14th Annual Conference in New Orleans, Our School at Blair Grocery welcomed hundreds of conference attendees from all over the country. Over the three days of the conference, people came to learn what Our School is all about by layering compost, seeding sprout trays, harvesting basil, and walking and talking their way through the building and the farm.

There were, of course, plenty of food growers present, hailing from places as far-flung as Detroit and Oahu. The farm became a space for sharing diverse experiences and strategies for growing food and growing food sovereignty in our communities.

Nearly 50 amazing pounds of OSBG radish and pea sprouts
were the featured salad at the CFSC Conference's opening dinner
on Saturday evening.


Four of our students presented a conference workshop entitled "Food Systems Education and Student-driven Food Reform in New Orleans" along with students from Kids Rethink New Orleans Schools.

Josh, Keishunn, Darnell and Dontrell educated people about OSBG and about food justice in the Lower 9th Ward, in their own words. They described our sprouts business, compost and vermicompost, running the Sunday market, and their experience with farming and learning at Our School - first in a presentation and then answering audience questions.

(from left: Dontrell, Keishunn, Darnell, and Josh answer questions from audience members)

On Sunday, OSBG's blue school bus pulled up to the Sheraton in downtown New Orleans, where the conference was being held, and quickly filled, this time with those who hadn't attended a scheduled field trip the day before.

This impromptu group of conference attendees had met staff members or students at workshops and had heard about the work Our School is doing. They wanted to know more and so they came along for a visit to the Lower Ninth Ward, to give some local context to discussions about food deserts and community food security.

We also welcomed Will Allen of Growing Power in Milwaukee.

Will was excited to see the progress we've made in just under two years! It's easy to forget that OSBG began in 2008 - as those okra-pulling work day participants can attest, our roots are deep.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Powerful Learning Grows in New Orleans' Lower Ninth Ward

In the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans, the devastation of Hurricane Katrina and the failure of levees and government support remain bluntly visible. Despite the surrounding ruins, David Ferris and his colleagues, whose classroom is an old grocery store and urban farm, help students not only be the change they want to see in their community, but also in themselves. This is David's story.


Monday, October 11, 2010


EAT HERE: A Good Food Guide to New Orleans.

Our School's partner restaurants - the buyers of our delicious sprouts, microgreens and other produce grown on our farm:

(1) The American Sector
945 Magazine Street
(504) 528-1940
Housed in the World War II museum, The American Sector is the newest John Besh restaurant. Enjoy sprouts and microgreens from OSBG featured in inventive spins on American favorites like hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken and dumplings, meatloaf and more. ($15)

(2) a' Mano
870 Tchoupitoulas Street
(504) 208-9280

Critically acclaimed a’ Mano serves central and southern Italian cuisine, featuring house-cured salami, hand-crafted pastas, and long-simmered dishes with ingredients carefully sourced from the local, sustainable, and artisanal purveyors featured in this guide. ($20)

(3) Boucherie
8115 Jeannette Street
(504) 862-5514

Boucherie’s critically acclaimed contemporary southern cuisine reflects their purpose - fine dining for the people. Their affordable menu features local meats smoked, cured, aged and prepared in house, and an array of local produce from Crescent City Farmers Market, Hollygrove Market & Farm and OSBG. ($15)

(4) Cochon Restaurant
930 Tchoupitoulas Street
(504) 588-PORK

One of three restaurants by Chef Donald Link featured on this map, Cochon Restaurant is noted for its traditional Cajun Southern dishes, as well as for its unique work to source as much Good Food as possible. Their menu features produce from the food projects on this map, as well as food sourced by their staff Forager - the first position of it’s kind in New Orleans - whose role is to connect Link Restaurants to regional farmers. ($30)

(4) Cochon Butcher
930 Tchoupitoulas Street
(504) 588-PORK

Link’s newest restaurant, Cochon Butcher is a retail butcher shop, a deli and a wine bar specializing in regional, house made meats and sausages, high grade fresh cuts of all natural meat, sandwiches and ready to cook items. ($15)

(5) Coquette
2800 Magazine Street
(504) 265-0421

A popular French bistro with a menu that changes daily, Coquette serves excellent bistro fare with a focus on local fresh ingredients from the projects listed on this map. The bar features seasonal house infused spirits, signature cocktails and an eclectic wine list. ($25)

(6) Domenica
123 Baronne Street
(504) 648-6020

A dining experience at Domenica is as warm and inviting as a traditional Sunday supper in a rural Italian village, each dish lovingly prepared. Domenica’s wood-fired margherita pizza features several varieties of fresh basil from OSBG. ($25)

(7) Emeril's
800 Tchoupitoulas Street
(504) 528-9393

Located in a remodeled warehouse in the Central Business District, Emeril’s is one of the most frequented restaurants in the city. Their menu features Good Food from all of the projects listed on this map. ($25)

(8) The Green Goddess
307 Exchange Alley
(504) 301-3347

Enjoy dining indoors or out at chef Chris DeBarr’s The Green Goddess, a funky French Quarter hideaway where the “soul food from here, there and everywhere” features ingredients from local and regional farmers. ($20)

(9) Herbsaint Restaurant
701 St. Charles Avenue
(504) 524-4114

Chef Donald Link’s James Beard Award-winning Herbsaint Restaurant features souther cuisine with French influence and contemporary twists, focusing on local and regional produce, meats, seafood, and dairy sourced by Link Restaurant Group’s staff forager. ($25)

(10) Lilette
3637 Magazine Street
(504) 895-1636

Bustling yet intimate, Lilette fits nicely into the Crescent City’s neighborhood bistro scene. Chef John Harris’ menu spans a contemporary French range - heirloom tomato salad, juicy duck confit, fresh Gulf seafood, and savory braciola - featuring produce sourced from all the projects noted on this map. ($25)

(11) Le Foret
129 Camp Street
(504) 553-6738

A meal at Le Foret is designed to live up to the expectations of a celebrity event. In every dish, you’ll discover southern-inspired Good Food from all the projects listed on this map prepared with strong French technique and seasonal flavors. ($35)

(12) L

333 St. Charles Avenue
(504) 378-2840

Lüke restaurant is an homage to the grand old Franco-German brasseries that once reigned in New Orleans. The Times-Picayune Lagniappe lauded Lüke for its “disarmingly home-spun culinary touches and broad-shouldered dishes that satisfy something more than just an appetite.” ($20)

(13) Martinique
5908 Magazine Street
(504) 891-8495

Martinique, a beautiful and cozy uptown restaurant has a tropical atmosphere that is elegant, enchanting and sophisticated. The menu features Good Food in unique cross-cultural cooking that hails from both France and Martinique. Try the sunflower and pea sprouts salad, straight from OSBG. ($30)

(14) Restaurant August
301 Tchoupitoulas Street
(504) 299-9777

The cuisine at Restaurant August is contemporary French with a focus on local ingredients from OSBG and Crescent City Farmers Market, inspired by Chef John Besh’s classical training here and in Europe, and by his own southern Louisiana roots. ($30)

(15) Satsuma
3218 Dauphine Street
(504) 304-5962

Local, organic produce shapes the menu of Satsuma, an art-filled Bywater cafe where carnivores and vegans alike will delight in a menu featuring organic satsumas from a local citrus grove and greens, tomatoes and more from farmers throughout the region. Enjoy delicious Louisiana beets and arugula in the roasted beet and fig salad. ($10)

"What is Good Food?
Good Food is delicious and healthy food from our communities – fresh from local farmers who grow and sell sustainably and ethically on local land.
Good Food also does good. In New Orleans, people, restaurants and organizations are coming together and using Good Food to do good for our city and region. “Eat Here” is an invitation to join this movement. By choosing markets and restaurants within these networks, you build our local Good Food Movement.
Consider this map a guide to doing good while eating Good Food in New Orleans.
Notice the arrows depicting relationships between New Orleans farms, markets, restaurants and community food projects. When you – the individual consumer - enter this picture, these relationships become powerful. By spending your money at the places on this map, you can join this network and assume the role of a funder – helping do good with Good Food.
At restaurants across the city, you can choose dishes featuring produce from Louisiana and Mississippi farmers, sourced by Hollygrove Market and Farm and Crescent City Farmer’s Market. Both projects have forged significant relationships between regional farmers and New Orleans restaurants and households. Supporting these markets increases the economic viability of farming and strengthens our regional food economy.
At the same restaurants, you can enjoy sprouts and microgreens from Our School at Blair Grocery in the Lower Ninth Ward. Purchasing these dishes supports a community school that uses Good Food as a means to create jobs and empower youth. Within the experiential curriculum of the sprouts business, students become social entrepreneurs, gaining the skills necessary to build solutions to the challenges facing their communities.
You can do good with Good Food outside the restaurant too. Visit Crescent City Farmers Market at any of their three locations and bring your food stamps to get twice the groceries; visit Hollygrove and their partner markets (like Blair Grocery’s Our Market) and support their work to increase access to Good Food for everyone.
Join us! Eat here and build our Good Food Movement."

If you are headed this way for the Community Food Security Coalition Conference this coming weekend, the map will be included in your conference materials. It highlights local food networks and places to support Good Food in New Orleans - at markets, restaurants, and community food projects. Take a look! Many thanks to Jakob Rosenzweig for the great design.

If you're from NOLA, or if you're headed to town this weekend for the conference, we encourage you to support Good Food and OSBG by choosing to eat and shop at these spots!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Update: Sprouts and our hoophouses!

Early mornings at OSBG: trays of sprouts ready for harvest and sale to restaurants and (on Saturdays) to Hollygrove Market & Farm.

Below, sunflower sprouts!


Covering Havana, one of three hoophouses at OSBG.

Our newly-covered houses - as the temperatures start to drop at night, plastic covering provides better insulation for happier sprouts!