Growing Food Awareness, Careers in New Orleans
Rebuilding after a disaster can take many forms, and ideally the end result yields many benefits. That’s the case with the Grow Dat Youth Farm in New Orleans, a project grown from the long-term needs created by Hurricane Katrina that is changing the lives of New Orleans youth.
At Grow Dat, New Orleans youths get their first jobs working on the four-acre farm within City Park, a more enlightening and varied experience than staffing a fast-food restaurant. The food grown on the farm helps address a shortage of fresh produce in the city.
The project was highlighted as an outstanding example of public interest design in a SEEDoc, a mini-documentary created by Social Economic Environmental Design with support from the Fetzer Institute.
The architecture news site Arch Daily called the project “a brilliant example of what we call ‘Urban Agri-puncture’ -- a strategy that uses design & urban agriculture to target a city’s most deprived, unhealthy neighborhoods.”
Youth from across the city of New Orleans come to learn, work, earn money, and grow food that goes back out to the city via Grow Dat; the teens themselves sell about 60% of the produce to markets, restaurants, and corner stores, the other 40% they then donate via Shared Harvest.
The farm’s development and maintenance has truly been a team effort including several sets of people, including Tulane School of Architecture students and the city itself, which donated an abandoned golf course to provide land for the farm.
Architecture students worked with community-members to design various structures: an outdoor classroom, teaching kitchen, locker rooms, administrative offices, a large post-harvest area. This collaborative process was not always easy, but as Emilie Taylor, the Design Build Manager at the Tulane City Center says in the video:
“Design can make a difference, but you’re not going to save the world by making a beautiful object. But if you as a designer can plug-in with a community partner in a group and a larger community that’s all working towards a goal, you can be part of a team that’s really transformative.”
This is a project of the Fetzer Advisory Council on Design.