New Orleans will be home to a new urban farming and food center! The Recirculating Farms Coalition and New Orleans Food & Farm Network announced today that they have received major grants for this innovative project from the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation and the Claneil Foundation, as well as various other donations. When completed, the Center will be a hub for research, education, and training on growing, marketing, and preparing healthy food in the city and beyond.
The core of the Center will be a farm that employs cutting-edge growing techniques for urban settings, including recirculating hydroponics and aquaponics. Recirculating hydroponics uses continuously recycled water in place of soil to grow fruits, vegetables, and herbs. Recirculating aquaponics combines hydroponics (growing plants) with aquaculture (raising fish). Both systems are ideal for cities because they can be built indoors, on rooftops, or on oddly shaped and even paved lots. Additionally, the Center will host a community garden, with raised soil beds and fruit trees.
New Orleans was chosen as home for the new Center because while the city is famous for its unique cuisine, fresh healthy food is not always accessible and affordable for everyone there. In fact, in 2011, New Orleans was named both the best place in America for Foodies and the worst food desert in the U.S. simultaneously, highlighting the vastly different food experiences people may have in the same city. The Center has plans to help change this. Its farm will source fresh food to local distributors, restaurants and grocers, as well as direct to consumers through an on-site farmers’ market. It will also serve as an education and training facility, with a wide range of gardening, farming, and farm-to-table cooking classes, community service programs for youth and seniors, demonstrations, lectures, and presentations.
New Orleans is a popular tourist destination, and the hope is that visitors from all over the world will participate in Center programs or stop by just to check it out and bring back the information and innovative approaches demonstrated there to their own home cities and towns. Read more here.