On Monday October 5th, the Recirculating Farms Coalition hosted a dinner for the Women’s Professional Council of New Orleans, and a panel discussion on food security and access. The setting for the meal and topic was perfect – it was all held at RFC’s Growing Local NOLA community garden in Central City, New Orleans.
Historically, Central City is an under-served, lower income neighborhood, without any full service grocery store. The area is also considered a “food desert”, as there is very limited access to fresh food there. These are among the reasons Growing Local NOLA made a home in Central City, to offer a place for residents to grow their own fresh food and so they could also purchase it straight from the garden at a reasonable cost. The garden grows fruits, vegetables and herbs, and houses free range happy chickens that provide fresh eggs; all of this is available at affordable prices to the community. There are also free weekly exercise classes on Wednesdays, health supportive cooking classes every 1st Thursday of the month and gardening/farming classes every 2nd Saturday of the month.
Panelists included representatives from: Grow Dat Youth Farm, Broad Community Connections, Circle Food Store and Recirculating Farms Coalition. Interestingly, there was a consensus among the speakers that New Orleans is aware of inadequacies regarding access to healthy, fresh food based on socio-economics, race, and location and many people are working toward solutions – but there are still many hurdles to overcome.
The women enjoyed a garden fresh menu, crafted from just-picked items, or from local businesses. Cocktail hour included: pickled peppers, okra and watermelon rinds; herbed roasted nuts and pumpkin spice cider (BIG THANKS to Cathead Vodka for donating the pumpkin spice vodka!). This was followed by a watermelon, feta, mint salad over mixed spicy greens in a lemon pecan vinaigrette; ratatouille over Cajun rice and NOLA style BBQ shrimp and grits; and finished with an amazing sweet potato bread pudding with a burnt sugar cane drizzle. Yum! Kudos to Ica Crawford of Growing Local NOLA and Katy Jane Tull and Leah Fishbein of Cake By The Pound for a delicious and beautiful local meal.