Urban Farming in New Orleans


Recently, I spent my morning with Maycon Fry – “Garden Guy”. He works as a Mentor Farmer at Hollygrove Market & Farm (HM&F) in New Orleans, La.

Macon Frye Harvesting Arugula at Hollygrove Market & Farm

The day began with Maycon telling me how he came to this organization, while we harvested arugula using scissors and our bare hands. He’s a lefty so we stared on the same drill (row) across from one another.

After being accepted to the University of California at Santa Cruz’s AgroEcology Program,  Macon had an offer to start growing for Hollygrove, which is supported by the New Orleans Farm and Food Network (NOFFN). It’s been 5 years and he’s happy he made the choice to stay in New Orleans. His program allows him to grow such popular crops as arugula and also teach busloads of visiting students twice a week, which he does with a witty southern flair.

The Hollygrove Market and Farm is an innovative combination of urban farm, local produce market, and community garden space located in the heart of New Orleans.  HM&F partners with the Carrollton-Hollygrove Community Development Corporation, New Orleans Food & Farm Network, Tulane City Center, Trinity Christian Community, and the Master Gardeners of New Orleans.

The Hollygrove area of the City has long been described as a “food desert” because of the lack of grocers in the area. The market represents a larger city- wide effort to bring fresh food into grocery-starved neighborhoods without turning to an outside retailer and, instead, teach people to grow their own market-ready food.

The following day Ariel Wallick, Urban Agriculturalist/Educator with the New Orleans Food & Farm Network (NOFFN), Niko and I loaded up their truck and drove out to buy supplies for a backyard garden build.  When we arrived, Lisa the owner of the home, was overjoyed at our arrival. Even the small children next door were interested and watched from over the fence as we worked.

Backyard Garden Build - NOFFN

We took turns taking wheel barrels full of soil and cow manure to the back yard and filling the raised bed. Then, Niko and Ariel put stakes in to hold up the tomato and eggplant starts. We agreed that the siting for the garden was good – lots of direct sunlight.

Finally, we planted, watered and we were off.

The Backyard Garden Project was developed by NOFFN (one of HM&F’s sponsors) to serve the greater New Orleans residents by offering them raised bed gardens, including soil, plants, trellises and consulting, all on a sliding scale.

At NOFFN they also teach such classes as, Water-wise Irrigation and Urban Rainwater Catchment and Home Orchards and Urban Bee-keeping.

So, if you’re living in New Orleans and want to grow your own, give the people at New Orleans Farm and Food Network a call: 504-864-2009.

The Hollygrove Market & Farm sells fresh produce six days a week and on the three-quarter-mile spread that surrounds the store, train budding urban farmers.

The urban farming movement is catching on in the Big Easy. Stay tuned and watch New Orleans grow!

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