Read a Letter from New Grow Dat Executive Director
I am deeply honored and humbled to join the Grow Dat Youth Farm family as executive director and to advance our mission to cultivate young leadership as we purposefully grow food as a community. As an advocate, educator, historian, community gardener, and mother, my work always brings me back to the land and the people. We are because the land is. Grow Dat understands that relationship very well. As someone who is personally committed to social justice, youth leadership, and community determination, Grow Dat’s mission and values – sustainability, youth leadership, inclusion, food justice, love of land, and solidarity – are indeed my own. As I experience more about the organization and staff, I am truly inspired by each staff member’s commitment to living ALL of the organization’s values – how staff and board members exude such passion, pride, and JOY when describing the organization’s work, specifically the accomplishments of the young men and women who grow through the leadership program. The volume of food produced annually – over 25,000 pounds! – becomes the platform on which young New Orleanians address social injustices, such as poor access to affordable fresh and healthy foods and the difficulties in achieving community sustainability, by taking ownership of solutions. With an understanding of the historical and cultural significance of food production, young leaders in Grow Dat grow food and then sell and donate portions of the crop for local consumption. Truly, leadership in action! The land on which Grow Dat stands, as with all land, feeds us, nurtures us, renews us, and encourages us to realize that we are all connected by a basic fact – we all must eat to live, and that food must come from somewhere. Together, we cultivate not only food, but build solidarity. I hope to continue and build upon the great work of the young men and women participants of Grow Dat and the staff and board who support them.
Thank you, Grow Dat, for welcoming me into the family!
Executive Director, Grow Dat Youth Farm
A Letter from Stephanie Barksdale, Chairman of the Board:
On behalf of the Grow Dat Board, and our incredibly committed succession committee of staff, board, and youth, I am excited to announce the hiring of Devon Turner as Grow Dat’s new Executive Director.
A native of Plaquemines Parish in southeastern Louisiana, Devon Turner’s career has been focused on supporting and advocating for young men and women, first as an educator, teaching about social justice issues at the nexus of race, gender, justice, and violence. She was then instrumental in the creation of New York City’s first community-based school for justice system-involved youth. She most recently served New Orleans youth by developing young leadership opportunities at Liberty’s Kitchen as well as connecting them to a host of resources throughout the city.
We are thrilled to have Devon Turner lead Grow Dat Youth Farm, as her own values and mission align so closely with our work. We are confident that her experiences, insights, and leadership will bring new energy, ideas, and passion to guide our vision of a vibrant New Orleans where youth and adults transform their communities, their environment, and themselves by engaging in the meaningful work of growing healthy food.
Thank you to everyone who has supported our work during this transition, and a special thank you to our dedicated succession committee and to SSA consultants for their support. We are all excited for you to get to know Devon better. I hope you will consider joining us at one of our upcoming farm dinners or hootenanny, or just come by the farm to meet her!
With great excitement,
Board Chair, Grow Dat Youth Farm