Xavier Students Take “Community Plunge”

At 9am on Saturday morning the Growing Local NOLA campus in Central City, New Orleans was hopping. Thirty new freshman from Xavier University were busy cleaning, painting and planting! The volunteers participated in an orientation “Community Plunge”, a program designed to immerse incoming students in the culture of New Orleans by working with local organizations.

Many thanks to Louisiana Master Gardener, Debra Surtain, for arranging the event!

 

 

 

Raising Urban Chickens!

Our most recent workshop in our Summer “Grow Mo’, Bettah” series in partnership with the New Orleans Food and Farm Network was about raising urban chickens! Dozens of people flocked (pun intended) to our Growing Local NOLA public campus to learn from Louisiana Master Gardener, Horticulturist and urban farming guru Ica Crawford. She discussed caring for chickens from egg to adulthood and what the specific needs are for each stage. Of course the chicks themselves stole the show (see pix)!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Summer School is hot hot hot!

It’s full on summer in New Orleans and our Growing Local NOLA food and farm center is starting to really heat up with all the public classes we’ve been offering. Last night, we hosted a natural pest and disease management seminar. It was a perfect evening, complete with a lovely breeze and some fluffy white clouds to provide just the right amount of shade. Louisiana Master Gardener and Botanist Ica Crawford led the group through preventative as well as curative ways to handle a wide range of garden troubles. She even brought samples of problematic insects and plants with common diseases to help people identify symptoms as early as possible, so they can treat them quickly and effectively. RFC and NOFFN are hosting a series of trainings for farmers and gardeners over the course of the next few weeks – check back for more great pix and info!

 

Growing Local NOLA Farm to Table Cooking Demo

Exciting things happening at our Growling Local NOLA campus in Central City New Orleans! As our contribution to the annual NOLA Locavores Eat Local Challenge – we hosted an “all local” farm to table cooking demonstration. We had more than 50 people in attendance trying out our fresh and delicious recipes with ingredients from all local farms (including ours!) -

Zucchini and yellow squash “pasta” ribbons with pecan basil pesto

Herbed strawberries over mixed greens in a lemon honey pecan vinaigrette

Blueberry honey frozen yogurt with candied pecans and a sweet cream drizzle

We’ll be featuring these in our upcoming newsletter too – so be on the lookout for that coming your way soon. Not a member yet and want these great recipes and more? Join our mailing list!

Many thanks to the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation for all their support in developing Growing Local NOLA and allowing us to offer free health-supportive programs for our community!

 

School Food

It has been a busy and exciting few weeks for us at RFC in our efforts to improve access to fresh, sustainable and local food in Louisiana schools and beyond.

We first organized a push aimed at the U.S. House of Representatives’ proposed agriculture appropriations bill, that if passed as written, would allow schools to opt out of providing children meals with basic nutritional requirements – including not enough fruits and vegetables. Minimum nutritional standards for school food took years to establish. To now create a means to evade these requirements would be a real setback that mainly hurts our Nation’s most needy children. Today, students in the United States consume 35 to 50 percent of their daily calories at school, and what’s on the plates that kids get at school is especially important for the nearly 30 million children who receive government-subsidized meals – they often rely on food served at school to meet their basic nutritional needs. As nearly 20 percent of U.S. children struggle with hunger, school cafeterias are often the primary source for young people to access food to keep them healthy.

RFC and organizations around the United States have banded together under the slogan #SaveSchoolLunch to get this waiver provision removed from the agriculture appropriations bill. On behalf of farmers, organizations and individuals from around the country, RFC has been pushing Congress to make sure school food provides what our kids need. The House still has not voted on this bill and WE NEED YOU to take action:

  1. Sign the Credo Petition calling for Congress to do the right thing and not lower standards for school lunch
  2. Call Your Representative at: 202-224-3121 (ask for your own Representative) and tell him/her to “amend the Agriculture Appropriations Bill by striking §739.”
  3. Check out the letter we sent to various Reps

We also recently guest lectured at the School Nutrition Association of Louisiana’s 61st Annual Conference in Marksville, Louisiana.  The SNA brings together representatives from all sectors that work together to provide school meals.  RFC led two break-out sessions that addressed state and federal requirements related to procurement and how schools can use legal tools to preference local food in their purchases.  We also hosted a critical conversation about the current state of the Department of Defense Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program in Louisiana, and how it can become a better utilized tool to access fresh and local food for schools.

Let’s not forget the exciting new Farm to School support resolution passed by the LA Legislature!

Finally, RFC is excited to announce that we will be contributing to a city-wide resource guide published by the Institute of Women and Ethnic Studies. IWES is a New Orleans based non-profit that is currently assembling a comprehensive community health resource guide for school administrators, teachers and parents.  The resource guide is being developed as part of IWES’ Healthy-by-Default program, in collaboration with the City of New Orleans’ Fit NOLA Partnership.  RFC will be listed as an advocate organization and provide a legal summary about how schools can procure healthy, fresh and sustainable produce for their cafeterias and programming.