Grow Dat creates a safe and rigorous environment that challenges young people while supporting them in their growth. Please join our Growing the Green alternative gift campaign to support our work.
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We are sorry to announce that due to possible stormy conditions from Tropical Storm Karen, the Fall Garden Festival has been cancelled.
Grow Dat youth will be presenting at the Urban Farm showcase at the New Orleans Botanical Garden’s Fall Garden Festival this Saturday and Sunday. Youth will give demonstrations in making a raise bed, planting the fall garden, composting, and urban chicken keeping (cluck, cluck!)
Simultaneously, youth will be offering free tours of our farm site and selling beautiful trees! Enjoy a wonderful day in City Park by visiting both the festival and the farm.
Grow Dat Youth Farm Tree Sale and Farm Tours
Saturday, October 5 and Sunday October 6
10am – 5pm
Grow Dat Youth Farm site,
150 Zachary Taylor Dr. located between City Bark and Pan Am Stadium.
Youth interns will be leading tours of the farm and eco-campus, and will be selling native trees and shrubs to benefit the program.
Trees for sale:
Japanese Magnolia – $40
River birch – $40
Wax Myrtle – $30
Crepe Myrtle – $30
Viburnum – $20
Cherry Laurel – $20
Holly – $20
Inkberry – $20
The statement below is currently featured in the Times-Picayune online and was crafted by members of the Opportunity Youth Executive Directors group including Grow Dat’s Johanna Gilligan.
“Let Londyn’s death inspire you to help New Orleans children thrive”
This past week, we were once again devastated by violence as we mourned the loss of 1-year old Londyn Samuels and the shooting of her 18-year-old babysitter, who remains in the hospital. The young adults most directly impacted by this tragedy, Londyn’s mother, father and babysitter, had committed to making their own lives better, tackling the obstacles they faced and taking advantage of positive educational, economic and social opportunities.
Londyn’s mother was a graduate and current employee of Cafe Reconcile. Her father is a Youth Empowerment Project (YEP) program graduate and has stayed closely connected with YEP and his mentor since he completed the program. The babysitter is currently a student in YEP’s GED program, NOPLAY.
These three young people were doing everything that we could ask of them – they were on the right track – and yet, their lives were still shattered by violence.
Still reeling from Londyn’s death, we watched horrified as violence continued to grip New Orleans over the weekend. A triple shooting left an 11-year-old girl murdered and her 11-year-old cousin in the hospital.
These unconscionable tragedies must serve as a reminder to all New Orleanians that this kind of senseless violence is not acceptable and cannot continue. We cannot view this type of violence as a norm in our community. Everyone in our city is affected when a fellow citizen’s life is lost. We all have a role to play and a responsibility to work together to make our city a place where every life is valued, and all children have the chance to grow up without the fear of being killed.
Several years ago, the executive directors of 12 of the city’s youth-serving organizations decided to come together to form the Opportunity Youth Executive Directors group. We realized that we needed to work more closely together to ensure that we were supporting one another; sharing resources effectively; providing unduplicated, quality services; raising awareness about at-risk youth and facilitating relationships with caring adults who provide the breadth of opportunities and skills young people need, and deserve, in order to become happy, healthy and contributing adult citizens. Together, our organizations provide thousands of the most vulnerable young people in New Orleans with a broad range of services that include emergency housing, advocacy and legal assistance, intensive mentoring and case management services, tutoring, mental health counseling, vocational and hospitality training, GED and adult education, parenting classes and job readiness skills and placement.
Through our work, we see young people every day who are grappling with more than most of us can imagine, and yet they still work tirelessly for a brighter future for themselves and their families. We are with these young people as they celebrate milestones that range from receiving their GEDs, to enrolling in college, to completing self-improvement programs, to finding full-time jobs, to securing their own apartments. Sadly, we are also with them when they endure some of the most painful and heartbreaking losses one can imagine. We are beside them when they find the strength, grit and resilience to keep pursuing their goals and dreams, in spite of these setbacks.
It is unfortunate and unfair, however, that the nightly images of young people in our community are not of hope and opportunity and success. Instead, we see the images of young people in mug shots and at crime scenes that are emblazoned in our minds and make us angry, frustrated and scared.
These negative images are not representative of the vast majority of youth we work with and know. Given the choice, most young people want to better themselves and will take full advantage of these opportunities. They deserve our help, respect and most of all, they deserve to have us stand beside them and share the real images of who they are and who they want to become.
The future of New Orleans rests in the fate of our young people. Despite our sadness and anger over these most recent acts of senseless violence that have taken children from our community, we remain steadfast in our commitment to working together to provide youth with professional supports, quality services and unconditional love. It is going to take all of us, in solidarity, to provide our good and brave young people with the opportunities they need to grow and thrive.
We ask that all people do their part to interrupt this unthinkable cycle of violence plaguing our city by getting involved. Volunteer to tutor; hire an at-risk youth; reach out to a niece or neighbor in need; make eye contact and say hello to youth when you pass them on the street … find a way to help bring peace back to our community and our families.
Glen Armantrout III is chief executive officer at Cafe Reconcile. Melissa Sawyer is co-founder and executive director of the Youth Empowerment Project.
Other members of the Opportunity Youth Executive Director Group are: Lauren J. Bierbaum, executive director, Partnership for Youth Development; Jim Kelly, executive director, Covenant House New Orleans; Ronald McClain, president/CEO, Family Service of Greater New Orleans; Johanna Gilligan, executive director, Grow Dat Youth Farm; Dana Kaplan, executive director, Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana; Keith Liederman, CEO, Kingsley House; Janet Davas, Executive Director, Liberty’s Kitchen Inc.; Thelma H. French, president/CEO, Total Community Action Inc., Minh Nguyen, executive director, Vietnamese American Young Leaders Association-New Orleans; Flozell Daniels Jr., president/CEO, Foundation For Louisiana.
For the last six months, three Grow Dat alums have worked as Policy Interns with the National Youth Climate Exchange (NYCE) organized by Global Kids. The NYCE culminated in a 3-day retreat outside of Washington, DC with youth activists convening from New York, DC, West Virginia and New Orleans. Attending the retreat was a powerful experience for all involved. Here youth report back back their experience and the connections they are making between sustainable agriculture, New Orleans and climate instability.
I’m Joshua and I go to De La Salle high school in New Orleans, Louisiana. This spring I was hired to work with Global Kids and Grow Dat to help with the growing problem of our world’s eco systems falling apart. I joined Grow Dat to learn more about our eco system. I wanted to learn how to grow plants sustainably, and I knew that Grow Dat would teach us how how sustainable agriculture differs from industrially-grown food. I wanted to get involved with National Youth Climate Exchange because I believe in what they are working for: climate justice. I wanted to do my part to help with the NYCE mission and to learn more about our planet and the people who try and save it. After joining NYCE, I was inspired by all the youth who came from different places and the stories they shared. I was also inspired by the many enviornmental activists we learned about – their stories about how they risk and sacrifice so much to help their homes and the planet. I was also very surprised to hear about the tragic story of how coal mining is destroying the mountains and societies around them. I was un-aware of how coal let into the air and water supplies can cause many diseases to spread through communities, and that no one is doing much to prevent it.
The knowledge I acquired at the NYCE has helped me understand how important it is that we farm without pesticides at Grow Dat. Not only do pesticides affect our food and the people who eat them, but they can destroy the environment slowly over time as they infect the water and plants that animals need to survive. If we want to keep farming using clean methods then we also need to keep the environment clean. The climate greatly affects how our food grows. If the warmer seasons end faster or are too long it can cause foods to die before we can harvest them and limit what foods we can grow in New Orleans. We rely on the earth to grow our food and by destroying it we destroy our food supply and the quality of the food.
Going the NYCE showed me how I can help keep my town and its people healthy and aware of the problems. We can work together as a city to keep our food clean and healthy.
Hi my name is Amber and I am a senior at New Orleans Science and Mathematics High School in New Orleans. I work at the Grow Dat Youth Farm where I will be an Intern again this fall. I got involved with the National Youth Climate Exchange (NYCE), because I wanted to know more about what was going on around the country climate-wise. I was never aware of the problems that other places were facing – like mountain top removal – so when I learned about it I was very surprised. I never thought about how serious some of our enviornmental problems are. At the retreat I learned a lot but the thing that I took with me was that we as youth have a very powerful voice and all we have to do is use it to make what we want happen. Climate change is important to our work at Grow Dat because we use organic methods to grow vegetables. We do this so that we don’t damage the only land that we have. By us growing food for communities in New Orleans, there are less ‘food miles’: the food is fresher and it doesn’t have to travel a lot of miles to get to the consumer. Local food reduces the use of fossil fuels for transportation.
It was amazing to work with youth from many different cities. I hope that we can meet again one day to talk about the progress that we are making in our communties.
I am Kamau and I am a Junior at Warren Easton High School. I worked at Grow Dat last year as a Crew Member. I am currently on staff at Kids Rethink New Orleans Schools and I sit on the Restorative Justice Committee. I am also the founder of Be a Helping Hand Foundation. I am currently working on music with my sister.
I had a very great time at The National Youth Climate Exchange (NYCE) retreat. Climate connects with agriculture in millions of different ways. Climate change alters weather patterns which has great effect on how we grow our crops or if we can grow the same crops at all. Below is the statement I wrote after attending the retreat which I shared with my school Principal, employers, environmental mentor and others.
“On April 4 – 7, I went to Waynesboro, Pennsylvania. We The National Youth Climate Exchange or NYCE, learned about climate change. We learned about environmental problems in New Orleans and also problems elsewhere such mountain top removal. I met many youth activists, such as Londan, Herminia, Leslie, Makayla, Elmu, Redwan, and Samri. Many of those names don’t sound American: the NYCE is a diverse group of activists coming from Honduras, Mexico, Africa and Bangladesh, although we all now live in America. I also worked with New Orleans’ very own Amber and Joshua.
We shared personal stories about dealing with climate change.One climate story that really stood out to me was told by two teenagers from West Virginia who are activists with Build-It-Up West Virginia. Their story was about mountain top removal, which is the process of exploding mountains to mine out coal. Many West Virginians have well water, which comes from a well underground rather than city water. The well water where they live is contaminated with chemicals from mountain top removal. Many of these chemicals have caused people to develop cancer, asthma, and other breathing problems. Many of the people affected are kids. The chemicals are not only in the well water, they are also in the air. The mountains in their areas are disappearing: in their community there is only one mountain left. The youth also shared about their emotional struggle. They have been abused and have recieved death threats – because they want to make a difference. One of the girls shared that she was told that she was going to be killed if she went against coal mining again. They are only 15 and 18 years old.
The next story that caught my attention was from a 14 year old from Bangladesh who now lives in New York. He said that there was a huge river behind his house. Everyday he saw the river being filled with concrete. Eventually a city grew on the banks of the river. He said that once the city was finished, it sunk right back into the river. When it sunk it had killed many people, and now there is nothing left but dirty land.
Now I’m going to share our story. Because of the changes in climate from human wrong-doings, the Louisiana coast loses 1 acre of land every hour. That’s 24 acres of land lost each day. (This is about the size of 24 football fields.) In our eyes levees are a good thing, but that’s for protection against flooding. Levees also stop sediment from coming in to build new land. Sediment is moved from the Mississippi River out into the Gulf. New Orleans is a ‘bowl community’ meaning water will collect in the city if the levees break and we flood again. It is possible New Orleans would not recover. Solutions to these problems can be elevating homes, using solar energy, installing green roofs and etc. Doing these things will not only reduce carbon emissions but will also create better living.”
Grow Dat recently hosted a Youth Anti-Violence Summit on the farm in response to the shooting on Mother’s Day which deeply touched our Grow Dat community.
It was a day of reflection, sharing, and an attempt to envision a world different than the one we inhabit today. Filmmaker John Richie screened a section of his film Shellshocked and answered questions. Youth wrote letters to someone in their lives that had been touched by gun violence, and then shared their letters with another crew member.
Crew members were invited to create two kinds of trees: an unhealthy tree that maps systems of violence in New Orleans and beyond; and a healthy tree that maps systems of individual and community-wide success, peace and happiness. Youth were encouraged to identify the roots of both trees, brainstorm what sustains the roots and helps the trees grow (the trunk), and what sort of leaves or fruit are produced by each foundation. As leaves fall from the trees and touch the earth, they become the soil that nourishes the roots, creating a system that is reinforced and recirculated over time.
William Mupo from the Health Department at the Mayor’s Office shared the city’s plan to address violence, and listened to youth recommendations on what they think the city should do.
Grow Dat youth answer the question: What can the City do to improve New Orleans?
- Create more job opportunities.
- Make the physical environment nicer.
- Identify people involved in crimes and provide them with resources to change.
- Improve the NOPD.
- Intervene to try to stop retaliation killings.
- Create preventative solutions to violence: counseling, medical care, etc.
- Create a safe community place for teens and children.
- Create new teen activities in the city.
- More funding for after school programs.
- More things like Grow Dat.
- Rebuild the movie theater and malls in the East.
- More parks.
- Improve the school system.
- Raise age range for park ball.
- Build new, safe, and fun communities in the East.
- Improve public school buildings and resources.
- Stop selling guns (so people are unable to get them).
This afternoon I’m boarding a plane with three Grow Dat Policy Interns – Amber Young, Josh Kemp, and Kamau Johnson – to attend the National Youth Climate Exchange (NYCE) in Pennsylvania.
Grow Dat is honored to join the NYCE, the latest Global Kid’s Human Rights Activist project. Youth from Grow Dat in New Orleans are participating in a 3-day climate action summit with Build it Up West Virginia and Global Kids students from NYC and Washington, DC.
Addressing climate change is key to us at Grow Dat because food system emissions account for between 19%-29% of all total greenhouse gases. And agricultureaccounts for 80%-86% of emissions within the food system. Check out the infographics from CGIAR:
On our farm, youth grow food using sustainable and chemical-free methods. Our commitment to carbon reduction and environmental stewardship ensures that agriculture is part of the solution, rather than remaining a leading contributor to the problem.
To reduce our carbon footprint, most of the 5-month long fellowship is conducted via Google Hangout and conference calls. This summit is an opportunity for youth to get to know one another face-to-face. Atendees will spend the weekend crafting action plans for environmental justice work in their communities.
Youth in New Orleans know all too well the threat of sea level rise and the fallout of increasingly extreme weather patterns. Their voices are key to understanding the real impacts of a changing climate.
Stay tuned to see these young activists in action upon their return!
Grow Dat Program Specialist
“My family is just really happy that I’m part of Grow Dat. I hear them talking on the phone to other family members, they’ll be like, ‘Oh, my baby be bringing home fresh vegetables and he knows how to cook and everything!’, which is so nice and encouraging.”
-Grow Dat Crew Member
Our annual Growing the Green campaign is in full swing – we need your help to make our goal. Support our health and wellness programming today!
Meet Amber, Deshawn, Melanie and Yasmin – our inaugural and extraordinary Fall Interns. Perhaps you’ve already made their acquaintance at a food justice speaking event around town, or on a tour of our farm. They come together from four different schools across New Orleans to grow food, continue to develop their leadership skills, engage in service, and advocate for change in our city.
Taken on the Bayou near Granny Oak right behind our fields in City Park, New Orleans. Photo by William Widmer.
Support Amber, Deshawn, Melanie and Yasmin today!
Give the gift of quality youth employment or fresh produce from our farm to those in need this holiday season! Our meaningful ‘Thanks for Giving’ cards are the perfect present for everyone on your list.
Donate by purchasing cards now!
You will be mailed beautiful cards corresponding to the amounts above to give as gifts this holiday season.
Click here to donate!
10 am – 2pm
Stock your winter garden with the best! Bring home your favorite edible and ornamental plants, cultivated by Grow Dat staff and youth interns. Fall vegetables, herbs and pollinator attracting ornamentals will be sold.
12 pm – 5pm
Eat, drink and celebrate our farm! Join us as we kickoff our annual Grow The Green online fundraiser. Food trucks, music, and farm fun will abound. Tour our brand new eco-campus and farm, participate in sack races and other fall harvest games, and learn about how you can support our work of growing young leaders and healthy food for New Orleans. La Cocinita and Frencheeze will be on site selling delicious food, and we will have beverages for sale provided by our sponsors, Old New Orleans Rum Distillery and Rouses.
All proceeds from the plant sale and party will go to further our mission to nurture a diverse group of young leaders through the meaningful work of growing food.
My name is Melanie Long, I’m currently a Fall Intern at Grow Dat, and this is what I did this summer:
It started out with a blind leap into a state I couldn’t even place my finger on a map…Vermont. Plymouth, Vermont to be exact. I was to attend a work based summer camp for six weeks called Tamarack Farm, part of the Farm and Wilderness Camps. Beforehand, I was told that I would not have access to my cell phone or any other form of electricity for that matter so there would be no way for me to know what Liam and Hope were up to on the Bold and the Beautiful, my favorite soap opera. Anyway, I decided to not have any expectations about the farm when I arrived. This was a great idea, as I soon found out, because there were many many many new things that I was able to experience.
Grow Dat is an urban produce farm set in the heart of the city set right next to an overpass, but it is scenic none the less. Coming from this type of farm, it was totally new to live on a farm with both animals and produce, nestled in a valley surrounded by big green hills and a beautiful lake. The first big adventure I remember was nothing other than milking a cow. I love milk and personally knowing the cows that the farm’s milk supply came from was pretty eye opening! There were also chickens, ducks, calves (which act like puppies), goats and a ginormous (I cannot find any other words to describe her) pig. The pig was a sweetheart.
The work projects were a pillar for the farm’s motto: Work is Love Made Visible. One of the major work projects which required about 40 percent of the campers was Barns and Gardens in which campers tended the farm’s garden and did various animal related tasks. Already having 5 months of farm knowledge under my belt, gardening was nothing new, and neither were some of the plants. Now this is very interesting because farms in the deep south, like Grow Dat, cannot plant many varieties all year round. Grow Dat stops growing cool weather plants like lettuce, radishes, carrots, and kales at the first sign of warm weather. Then Grow Dat plants hot weather plants like tomatoes, peppers, squash and okra. In short, we plant what we can while we can. Vermont’s climate, on the other hand, allows for all of these things to be grown at the same time during the summer. It’s not hot enough to wilt the leafy greens, nor is it cool enough to stop production of hot pepper plants. It’s amazing! I was introduced to different produce varieties like blue potatoes (see photo above if you don’t believe it), and was able to see how other things I eat grow, like snap peas and asparagus. (Honestly I didn’t start eating most vegetables until I got to Vermont. The cooks incorporated a vegetable from the farm into every meal we ate, and I enjoyed every morsel!)
During the summer I hiked on the Appalachian Trail in the White Mountains, covering 26 miles in 4 days. I milked cows, cooked for about 90, used a composting toilet, went off a rope swing into the lake, picked blueberries, tried new foods, played ultimate frisbee, built a shower house, constructed a bed railing, made bridges and doors, screen printed shirts, and made a beach with the rest of the camp one bucket of sand at a time.
I did all of these things this summer and even more that I can’t fit into this blog post!
Melanie Long graduated from Grow Dat’s core program in June 2012 and now works as an Intern on our farm. She is a Senior at De La Salle High School in New Orleans.
Please join us this Saturday, June 16 as Grow Dat youth crew members debut our brand new mobile farm stand (it’s a traveling market that hitches onto the back of our truck!).
We’re partnering with Neighborland, Broad Community Connections and GOOD Magazine to offer a Pop-Up Farmer’s Market at the new Tulane Community Health Clinic on Broad Street at Orleans.
A bounty of fresh and affordable all-nature produce will be for sale. Free watermelon juice for all who attend!