Community Opening of Growing Local NOLA!

shrimp boil 2What a day we had October 4th. The sun was shining, there was a slight breeze and the growing Local NOLA community center was hopping with food, music and activities. Our community opening was a huge success!

We had fabulous food: a shrimp boil (local shrimp, potatoes and vegetables cooked on site eaten hot straight from the pot), fresh pesto on crostini (with basil right from the garden), TONS of snacks: whole fruit, popcorn, yogurts, granola bars, and beverages: naturally flavored seltzers, cold filtered water (no plastic bottles!) and “mocktails” – orange mango ginger refreshments. The star of the day was certainly the raw zucchini “pasta” in a red tomato sauce, donated by local vegetarian and vegan restaurant, Seed.

We provided a wide array of activities, including demonstrations that attendees happily participated in: salsa dancing, yoga and even boot camp! Fit NOLA instructors jumped in too and got people moving doing zumba and hoola hooping. Our friends Brec on the Geaux Рa recreational vehicle from Baton Rouge Рjoined us and brought jump ropes, basketball nets and balls and set up obstacle courses. The kids in particular enjoyed their offerings.

Music included a traditional New Orleans brass band and the Honeypots later in the evening. There was much dancing and singing.

Perhaps the most exciting thing that day was the nearly 200 people who came to celebrate with us.

We look forward to offering a wide range of classes, programs and activities at the center going forward – watch here for a calendar of events coming soon!

THANKS to: 7th Ward Boys and Girls Garden, Appropriate Technologies, Boasso America, Brec on the Geaux, Fit NOLA, Griffith Graphics and Design, Gulf Coast Housing Partnership, Home Depot, Just Ask, Loyola University of New Orleans School of Law and School of Mass Communications, Our School at Blair Grocery, Pistil and Stamen Flower Farm, Seed, The Donnelley Center, The Urban Farmstead, and Xavier University.

Our wonderful farm team: Max Appley, William Baddour, Jordan Bantuelle, Ann Christian, Louisiana Master Gardener Ica Crawford, Devin Foi, Maria Hinds, Rob Huffman, Quentin Potter, Louisiana Master Gardener Debra Surtain, and Jacob Zeairs.

Special Kudos to Sascha Bollag, Micheal Crumpler and Emily Posner for going above and beyond always.

And of course BIG THANKS to our main sponsor, the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation, for all their support in bringing this to our community. We are so excited about the far-reaching impacts here and beyond!

Read more here in the article about us in The Advocate! Thanks to fabulous local reporter Mary Rickard for her interest in and time at our event!

Ocean fish farms in the Gulf of Mexico

It’s been a number of years since the federal government continued pushing to allow large floating cages filled with fish in our already stressed Gulf waters. Believe it or not, National Marine Fisheries Service – the agency tasked with conservation and management of all things fish and fishing in the U.S. – is trying to get people to believe that growing fish is the same as fishing, and therefore the agency is able to permit industrial fish farming operations in the Gulf of Mexico – and SOON! Last week, NMFS (pronounced “Nymphs”) announced that regulations to allow open water fish farms as close as 3 miles offshore in the Gulf are about to be finalized. There is a 60 day open public comment period right now, and following, the new law would be published as final.

Open water fish farming has a global history of serious problems – from massive pollution to interference with other ocean uses like fishing, diving, swimming and boating. Experimental operations have mostly done poorly in the U.S., requiring huge inputs of public dollars to remain open or failing and closing.

Recirculating farms grew in popularity as a response to development of open water fish farms years ago, because closed loop systems avoid most of the problems created in open water farms – there is no outflow of pollution, fish can’t escape, it’s harder for diseases and parasites to get to the fish, and there is no interference with wildlife. There is just no need to move forward with outdated open water commercial fish farms at this time when there are better, more sustainable options available today.

But for some reason, NMFS keeps pushing forward with allowing commercial fish farms in the ocean, starting with the Gulf of Mexico. In recent years, the Gulf has been battered by hurricanes, covered in oil and then sprayed above and below with chemicals in an effort to mask the terrible effects of the spill. The Gulf, its the  wildlife and all the people who live near and work on and in Gulf waters can not handle the effects that can come with industrial aquaculture on top of the already existing problems.

And its not just about the Gulf – if this law is finalized, NMFS will try to issue permits in other places around the U.S. as well – where’s next? New England? California? Please join us in telling NMFS we don’t want industrial fish farms in the Gulf of Mexico -or any other U.S. waters.

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. Channel 4 came out to cover the event – check out the TV clip!

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!