Thursday, November 13, 2008

Food Retailing Innovation Memo: Innovative Combination Retail Food Market and Urban Farm Set to Open in New Orleans LA USA Neighborhood

New Orleans' Hollygrove market and urban farm is set to open in January, 2009

Educational garden and market hope to regrow Hollygrove neighborhood
By Judy Walker
Food editor, The Times-Picayune - New Orleans
November 10, 2008

Once the site of Guillot's Nursery in New Orleans, LA USA, the Hollygrove Market and Farm is set to start selling local produce in January.

The site of the former Guillot's Nursery will become the Hollygrove Market & Farm, a self-sustaining nonprofit store selling local produce and an education center for urban farming, organizers announced last week.

The Carrollton-Hollygrove Community Development Corp. and New Orleans Food & Farm Network will develop and operate the market on the one-acre site at 8301 Olive St. It is expected to open in January; the first cover crop to build the soil in the teaching garden already is sprouting.

Hollygrove community member Michael Beauchamp lives nearby and is a volunteer who has been with the program about three months.

"I'm a first-time gardener, and I'm loving it," Beauchamp said. "It's a cost savings. There are lower transportation costs. I can eat healthy and probably add years to my life. And I can plant my garden and come here and sell the extra."

The concept sprang from the Carrollton-Hollygrove Community Development Corp., a neighborhood organization formed to encourage rebuilding after Hurricane Katrina. The group wanted to address the long-standing lack of access to fresh fruits and vegetables in the
Hollygrove-Gert Town-Fountainbleau area.

Paul Baricos, the group's executive director, said they saw the Guillot's property and realized it would be perfect., They partnered with NOFFN, which was looking for a place to train farmers in organic certification, to "grow the growers" to meet the huge demand for local food.

"We'll operate the store," Baricos said, providing community jobs, "and (NOFFN) will train four to six people at a time. We hope to .¤.¤. focus on locally grown foods. But there's not that much grown in New Orleans. We canvassed rural farms within 100 miles, and we will buy from farms in south Louisiana and southern Mississippi. So it will be seasonal."

The market also hopes to sell to chefs, schools and weekend markets, he added.

NOFFN executive director Kris Pottharst said the partnership "is looking at it as not only fresh food but economic development. One purpose is to highlight the neighborhood as a desirable place to live. This will provide one of the sought-after amenities that is mentioned by all neighborhood groups as to how they want to rebuild their neighborhood after the storm."
Pottharst said the lease on the property was effective in September, and includes the 5,000-square-foot main building that will house the market. The second floor will be used for offices, classrooms and neighborhood meeting space.

Demonstration plots will be placed along the outside fence, in direct sight lines of the Carrollton Boosters sports fields across the street. A salvaged hoop house will be used to grow seedlings. Donated fruit trees have been planted. Tulane City Center, the outreach program of the Tulane University architecture department, is creating an outdoor shade space and entrance arbor.

Among those attending Friday's announcement of the program was former NBA player Will Allen, who received a 2008 MacArthur Foundation Genius Grant as founder of Growing Power Inc. in Milwaukee. Allen has become an international spokesperson for urban farming.

"I'm the son of a sharecropper," Allen said. "And I'm passing on what was passed on to me, in a different sort of way, with a community twist."

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