Saturday, March 30, 2013
Our friend Emily runs a garden in the 7th Ward. For last few Fridays the kids she works with cooked together and ate salad greens from our farm.
They loved their salads so much they sent us these videos to thank us. Love it!
Monday, March 25, 2013
This week have service learners in from Middlebury through InterVarsity and and a couple of folks from Tulane staying with us as part of a domestic study abroad trip. Today they were planting okra when our neighbor Stanley--a chef in New Orleans for 30+ years who also grew up farming--came by and taught us all how to prep the rows and give the seeds a head start. Stanley's a nice guy, but of course he also wants okra come summer! Seems like a pretty good deal all around.
Monday, March 18, 2013
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
Immokalee Workers - Campaign for Fair Food in the Southeast
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?
Monday, March 4, 2013
Our School at Blair Grocery, by Gabriella Marks
[If you like to listen, "tune in" to hear Stacy Pearl and I talk the delicious decadence of NOLA and the rebirth of Blair Grocery on her KSFR Mouth of Wonder radio show]
My first visit to New Orleans’ notorious lower 9th Ward was in July, 2007. I’d been to New Orleans on a nearly annual pilgrimage for years prior, and never even really known that the NOLA version of a “burrough” is called a “ward”, let alone about the lower 9th.
Prior to Katrina, the lower 9th Ward was notable for the highest percentage of black home ownership in the city. But I think most of us learned about the lower 9th in the aftermath of The Storm – the district was flooded and devastated. In 2007, just 2 years short of the 2nd anniversary of Katrina, the area was almost completely erased and abandoned. Entire neighborhoods, the architecture that housed generations, and the families that lived there: all gone. Peering into every rusting carcass of a car, stepping over the shadow stains of floorplans rusted into concrete foundations, silenced beside the lone mailbox standing sentry over an empty lot, I was acutely aware of the absence of those lives: the sheer scale of it all was sobering.
On my recent (December, 2012) trip to NOLA, I found myself again driving through the lower 9th. There were fewer ruins, and even larger stretches of open land. Some of the houses that remained still bear the cryptic X-codes symbology of search and rescue reconnaissance – visual disaster vernacular writ large across the facade of each abandoned home. But this time I wasn’t there to witness devastation: I was there to see and taste first-hand the re-growth of a neighborhood.
By re-growth, I mean the literal greening and growing of food in a field. To my utter amazement and delight, my cousin, on break from college, is working at a place called Our School at Blair Grocery.
It’s the kind of project that can make you feel optimistic, even as you look past the planted field at condemned homes enclosed in boarded-up windows. I could wax endlessly operatic poetic about that farm. It’s one thing to have good ideas, and progressive conversations – the rhetorical search for solutions. It’s another thing entirely to smell the freshly composting soil and walk through vibrant verdant rows. At Blair Grocery, they’re growing change.
They have a mission that’s both simple and profound: “to what extent are we empowering at-risk youth to take leadership in making New Orleans, Louisiana the City that Ended Hunger?”
I can’t capture here everything they are doing towards answering this question, but programs include teaching local high school students about growing food, which is then sold locally at the growers market as well as to New Orleans’ restaurants like Cowbell and Cafe Carmo, eager to source local, organic, sustainable ingredients. College students from around the country intern at the farm: learning in the field, beyond books, about environmental justice, farming, community building. See? Pretty amazing.
Thanks, Jennifer, for introducing us to the farm. I spend a lot of time visiting and photographing rural farms throughout northern New Mexico. My first visit to a working urban farm brought real, grounded perspective to phrases like “sustainable” and “local food”: if you can do it in the lower 9th, we can do it anywhere.