Urban farming in NOLA

Bill and I are in love with New Orleans. We even talk about spending the winters there when we get old and achy.
Here’s why:
We arrived as night fell. We stayed with our good friends Amy and Kai and their new baby Arlo Diego. The baby is adorable! The next day we went to Mothers, an old-fashioned homecooking restaurant. The bread pudding. The oyster po’ boy. Well.
We drove around and looked at some of the community gardens. Contrary to what I had heard, the urban farming scene was not huge. One farm was just some collards and a painted fence. There was a phone number on the fence, so I dialed. In about five minutes I was on the phone with Macon Fry the Garden Guy. He said to come on over and check out his garden, and if we wanted, we could stay the night at his place. We drove up and saw a barefoot man in his garden near Xaivier University. The space was huge and lovely. I helped him transplant some dino kale. Then we followed him to his house on the Mississippi. A series of 6 shacks along the bank of the river. There was a goat on the front porch, a rabbit on the back. So these were our people!
Dying to cook, I made some polenta and cooked down some of our canned tomatoes with olive oil. Macon’s girlfriend made lentil soup. They called what I made grits and a red sauce. Then we sat around and talked about farming, favorite breeds of lettuce and seed libraries. The next day Macon gave us a bunch of donated seeds that wouldn’t grow in New Orleans. They have it tough there–it’s too hot to grow anything in the summer, so fall and winter is their main season.
Then we went to East New Orleans, out by the swamps and checked out an urban farm run by Catholic Vietnamese folks. They’re right next to the canals and were growing lots of gourd squash and greens.
What I loved about NOLA was that mish-mash of different communities, all doing the same project (farming), but bringing different elements to how to do things. It’s kind of what we have here in Oakland (minus the po’ boys)–and I love it.

2 responses to “Urban farming in NOLA

  1. duane marcus <a href="http://www.facebook.com/people/Duane_Marcus/541048543">Facebook me!</a>

    Glad to hear the vietnamese garden still exists. I visited it 4 years ago and was afraid katrina had wiped it out.

  2. I grew up in Southern California, have spent the past 30 years in Oklahoma but my soul resides in New Orleans. We go at least twice a year for 10 or 11 days at a time and hope to retire there at some point. I wasn’t a bit surprised to hear about your experience with Macon. I honestly believe that NOLA folks are some of the friendliest anywhere and they love to invite you in and feed you. I’ve never lived in an urban environment but I dream of a little place there with enough room for a couple of chickens and some raised beds. Perhaps we’ll see you there someday. 🙂

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