The Food & Justice team visited Our School at Blair Grocery (OSBG) today and met Nat, justice-minded and enthusiastic urban farmer. He eagerly listened to each team member’s interests and goals, and he shared examples of related urban farming and programing in practice all over America. Nat has become a wealth of knowledge about New Orleans since moving here post-Katrina with the goal of assisting local youth in completing their GED. After arriving, he realized that they did not have the literacy levels to get to that point; almost by accident, he found he was able to engage the local youth in gardening instead, which led to engaging the surrounding neighbourhood. This community buy-in even led to the donation of some of the land that OSBG uses for urban agriculture. Nat’s vision for those participating at OSBG was pretty simple: local youth applying the skills and empowerment achieved at OSBG to the next stage of their lives, and visiting volunteers taking the ideas introduced at OSBG home with them and applying them in their own communities.
Alex, an intern at OSBG, facilitated a workshop with us and the youth participating in NY2NO and urged us to approach any issue by first critically analyzing the problem before being able to propose any solutions. We looked at youth disempowerment, unsustainable community development, and food insecurity. We were blown away by the knowledge and passion shared by Alex and the NY2NO participants.
The instability of the food system in the Lower 9th Ward was surprising. Without a source of constant funding OSBG’s finances are often susceptible to extenuating circumstances, as demonstrated by their recent loss of an entire crop due to unexpected frost. OSBG’s work is inspiring and they providing learning opportunities and empowerment for many people (both local and visiting). However, our experiences today illuminated the instability of the food system within which OSBG operates, and fragility of this still rebuilding city post-Katrina.
The visit at OSBG also got us thinking, “can we do justice through food?”
written by Emily & Paula