Nestled on four acres in New Orleans’ beautiful City Park is Grow Dat Youth Farm, an urban farm that provides fresh food to inner-city New Orleans and job opportunities in for high school students. Working with students who have already taken gardening and cooking classes, Grow Dat Youth Farm creates a supportive, healthy and inspiring environment for New Orleans youth who still face daunting job prospects several years after the horrors of Hurricane Katrina. The farm emphasizes community, environmental stewardship and leadership through a collaborative effort to grow fresh food.
The Grow Dat Program is a social entrepreneurship that includes many local organizations, including the Tulane City Center and Clean Plate Projects. The urban agriculture project is important logistically as a jobs training hub because it is in a central location easily accessible by public transportation. Grow Dat Farm’s surroundings also help teach lessons about the natural environment within an urban setting. And in the wake of Katrina, the farm and its facilities, designed by Tulane University’s architecture department, have a critical role in providing fresh ingredients as the number of supermarkets within New Orleans’ city limits has declined since 2005 and are now primarily in the wealthier neighborhoods.
The farm works with high schools and several youth organizations to recruit a diverse group who together can develop both leadership and everyday life skills. Everyone is welcome: 20 percent of the students have demonstrated top leadership skills, 20 percent are “at-risk” youth, and 60 percent are in that middle range—average students who can fall through the cracks in the city’s education system.
The farm operates during the local schools’ spring semester between January and June. Each week, students work one day after school and on Saturdays. The program then ramps up in June with four days of work required. The students earn $50 a week until June, when wages rise to $200 per week. In addition to working on the farm, the students also sell their harvest at local farmers’ markets and prepare food for homeless or underserved residents. Grow Dat Youth Farm’s holistic approach, which emphasizes time management, people skills and of course, the cultivation of a food, together provides valuable training from which students in any city, anywhere, could benefit.
Via Arch Daily
Photos courtesy Grow Dat Youth Farm