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Thursday, June 30, 2011

Nat Turner clip by Hawthorne College of Business students

Nat Turner from Andrea Chen on Vimeo.

Video by OSBG/Job 1 students, Miracle and Quan

the farm cycle ($ave money,save plants) from ourschoolatblairgrocery on Vimeo.

Visit Our Students blog

To see what our "Social Media and Journalism" class is doing from week-to-week, visit:

Curriculum: What is it going to take to make Food Security a reality?

Introduce Essential Question:
What is it going to take to make the Food Security a reality?

Break growers into groups to look at each of these organizations and answer the following questions on large sheets of paper.

Questions for each group to answer:
1. Who are they? When did the organization start this work? Where do they work?
2. What do they do and how do they do it? What don’t they do? (Do they grow food? Work with youth? Train potential growers? Source food from local farmers? Change politic policies?)
3. How do they do their work? with who? for who?
4. What results have they achieved so far?
5. What overall impact are they having on food security?
6. Each grower should make a drawing of the group they are examining to show typical things that might be going on with that group.

Farm to School

Polyface Farms in the Shenandoah Valley, VA

Good Food Revolution
Growing Power in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Food Justice
Immokalee Workers - Campaign for Fair Food in the Southeast

Growing Growers
The University of Missoula at Montana Sustainable Food Systems Program

Sustainable Community Development
Ma’O Organic Farms in Hawaii
Nuestras Raices in Holyoke, Massachusetts


Ask each group to present their findings

Questions after the groups have presented, use their drawings to answer the questions:
1. How do different groups work to make food security a reality?
2. Are any of these parts of the work more important than others? how and why?

To answer question 3 they will have to draw what happens at OSBG
3. In comparison to these other groups from all across the country, to what extent do you think OSBG is doing good work? or, to put it a different way, is OSBG doing the work it’s going to take to make food security a reality in our community?

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Sheaux Fresh: Amazing family farmers visit OSBG!

The Food Revolution Will Not Be Televised!

      Well, Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution is being televised but that isn't exactly what I'm talking about. I'm talking about what's going on right here in our backyards. For some of us that literally means in our back yards. Slowly, often painfully so, people are realizing that the food they purchase may not be the best possible quality and it's certainly not the best possible price. In spite of being world famous for our cuisine, New Orleans has been designated as a food dessert. In other words, too many people have too little access to fresh, healthy real food. Some neighborhoods don't even have grocery stores and what's offered at most corner stores is not what a family should eat all week. Well, some people are just tired of it and have begun to look outside of the corporate food system for what they need.
       Recently, Thad, our children and I met some people who are really food revolutionaries. Nat Turner and the rest of the farmers/educators from Our School at Blair Grocery have created a beautiful oasis of self sustainability in the Lower Ninth Ward. They saw that food needs weren't being met and decided that the best way to address the issue was to create a system that is fair, healthy, natural and local. What they're doing is really simple but that's what makes it so revolutionary. They, like many local growers, have eliminated unhealthy, unnecessary practices from the food growing process. On top of that, they are training young people to recognize what really goes on with most of the food that is available to us, creating an awareness that encourages them to step out of the corporate food system by learning to grow food locally.
        It was a pleasure for us to see other people with whom we share a similar mission. Check them out and see for yourself what a positive impact the food revolutionaries from Our School at Blair Grocery are having on our community.


Monday, June 27, 2011

Some of the pieces of the puzzle

Please check out these links and come Tuesday ready to discuss them:

Some cool stuff they are doing in Brazil:

A great program in Detroit for teen mothers:

What's happening to the detroit program:

And don't forget your waivers.


Thursday, June 23, 2011

Empowering young people to take the forefront of the good food revolution

After hooking up with Job One workforce development summer youth employment program, we are now working with about a dozen kids from our neighborhood and 25 youth from the Greater New Orleans area Monday thru Friday. That makes us one of the largest employers in our community. We hope to build upon this experience to include people of all ages in the future.

On the first day, we jumped right in with the movie “Fast Food Nation”, students were asked to write down: who the characters are (a sentence about each character) and how they are related to one another. After watching about half of the movie the kids were broken up into five groups with a team leader, which was either a staff member or a long-time student at OSBG and asked to answer the questions together and draw a diagram of how they relate. After twenty minutes, we all reconvened in a circle with one staff and one long-time student leading discussion around the question: how realistic is this movie?

The discussion was mostly led by the staff member as the student had never facilitated a meeting before but the student, Twig, introduced the question and the take-home assignment.

After this activity, the students took a ten-minute break and reconvened for an activity led by Nat. He put an old fashion school chair (“the chair desk thingy”) on one of the tables the students were sitting at and asked them to draw it and tell him a bit about the purpose of the chair. They wrote for ten minutes and reconvened. Students threw out ideas like:

  • you face forward
  • you sit up straight
  • you can’t fall asleep because its forcing you to sit up
  • “all four on the floor” (what a teacher would say)
  • you face the board
  • you have a pen and paper
We deduced that the chair was used most in schools to get students to face forward, and look at the board because that is where learning is supposed to happen. In neat little rows and assigned seating. 
As Duranta says: "Learning can happen everywhere, not just in the classroom!"

Turner introduced that this was not just a job, that the young people should think of their time here as learning that does not just occur in the classroom but also in the garden and between people. He then wrote down: ELA, math, science, social studies, and Economy on the board and asked students to go on a scavenger hunt to find elements of the project around the farm and the building that had to do with each discipline.

Where does learning happen?

Let's talk about those traditional school chairs for a know the one:

Draw it. Write a little bit about it. 
What's it made of? 
Who made it? 
What is the purpose of it?
Where do you find this chair usually?
What have your past experiences been sitting in this chair?

Now, where does learning happen?


...Now, whats wrong with this picture?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Coffee Grounds = Excellent Compost

College Board Study: The Educational Experience of Young Men of Color

"In fact, a recent report commissioned by the College Board found that one out of every two young men of color ages 15-24 who graduate from high school will end up unemployed, incarcerated or dead."

Teaching for Social Transformation thru "The Matrix" movie

Choose 1 out of these 3 questions:
1) Which character in the film are you? Why?
2) Which character in the film is OSBG? Why?

(You can choose between: Morpheus, Cipher, The One,
 the Nebakennezer (the ship), the Oracle and the Agents)

3) Write about a moment since you've been working 
on the farm where you have "learned Kungfu".

Friday, June 17, 2011

Food Security Curriculum is well underway!

After working from 9:00-11:00 in the morning our summer program students return from 4:00-6:00 in the afternoon to participate in learning about food security in the air-conditioned classroom of OSBG.

On Wednesday, we split the students up into four different groups and had them rotate through four different stations each facilitated by a different member of the OSBG staff. The stations and activities are listed below:

               GLOBAL FOOD SYSTEM: with intern, Moana
Look up the following maps:
                                                      International Fast Food

                                                       Adult Literacy 

                                                         Fuel Use

What country has the highest?
What country has the smallest?
How do the maps relate to one another?
How does this relation impact you?

              PERSONAL DIETS: versus the Food Pyramid with staff member, Jamie
Students observed two different pictures used to express the importance of a diverse and nutritious diet

Do you think this is a good change or a bad change?
How does this relate to what you eat on an every day basis?

             LOCAL FOOD ACCESS:
USDAs Food Desert Locator with Turner
  • We spoke about the United States Department of Agriculture and what they are in charge of in the government
  • We typed in our addresses into the Food Desert locator to determine whether or not we are each living in a food desert according to the USDA
  • We searched the USDA website for an concrete definition of a food desert and found this: 
"How is a food desert defined?
The HFFI working group defines a food desert as a low-income census tract where a substantial number or share of residents has low access to a supermarket or large grocery store:
To qualify as a “low-income community,” a census tract must have either: 1) a poverty rate of 20 percent or higher, OR 2) a median family income at or below 80 percent of the area's median family income;
To qualify as a “low-access community,” at least 500 people and/or at least 33 percent of the census tract's population must reside more than one mile from a supermarket or large grocery store (for rural census tracts, the distance is more than 10 miles)."  (DEFINITION RETRIEVED FROM:
  • Then, we asked ourselves: what do we think of this definition? Can we create a better one? Let's do it!
Some things that the student said about this USDA definition is were that:
  • "It is a little un-necessary" and "Too complicated"
Our students came up with their own definitions in one sentence that they could use to explain to their friends and family what they are doing on the farm and in our classroom:
  • "A food desert is a drought"
  • "A food desert is when you don't have grocery store with in a mile of your house"
  • "It is when people don't have enough money, they don't have enough stores and if they do, it don't sell healthy food"

Applied Research Center and Kellogg Foundation's The Color of Food Report with intern, Izzy

What is the most surprising information you found in this report?
Why do you think it is like that?
How are race, class and gender related?
Is it fair?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Filmmaker Ian Midgley Follows Nat Turner and OSBG for his Documentary, "You Are God"


Ian is an independent filmmaker following revolutionaries, free-thinkers and free-doers across the United States. We have been very lucky to be included in his project entitled as an example of people who are shaping their own realities and making change.

Here is Ian filming one of our classes with twelve of our students learning about Food Security.

To learn more about Ian, the characters in his film and his project please visit:
Add You Are God on Facebook:

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Designing a Sustainable New Orleans

Yesterday we had a group of city planners from the Greater New Orleans area who are part of the American Planning Association Metro New Orleans Section (for more information on them, check out  their website and their facebook page) came by the school for a tour and extended conversation about designing a sustainable New Orleans.

Turner--leaning on Randy, our green-waste-hauler--giving an overview of composting

Our discussion began with a history of the project, from inception on November 27, 2008 to it's current state. Two representative narratives can be found in this New York Times article by Charles Wilson and this episode of Majora Carter's The Promised Land.

Then we looked at three models that inspire us:

The City that Ended Hunger Belo Horizonte, Brazil
CS Mott Group Detroit, Michigan
Garden City Harvest Missoula, Montana

We wrapped up by exploring possible cross-sector partnerships that will facilitate the vision into reality. We look forward to many fruitful collaborations in the days ahead!

Friday, June 3, 2011