January 10 - 18

Here are all the things we’ve done in the past week+, in bullet-point form because I’ve got to go help plant!

Tuesday, January 10

  • Site Cleanup
  • building French intensive beds in the 1800 lot
  • building spiral herb beds in the area we cleaned up
  • building a new compost sifter and modifying one of the old sifting tables
  • replanting leeks in bunches
  • replanting onions in bunches
  • learned that tilapia farming/aquaponics is illegal here, as it is an invasive species

Wednesday, January 11
  • Catholic Charities convent site visit
  • cleaned woodchips out of rows for tilling
  • moved a giant dirt pile
  • applied compost around freshly planted fruit trees
  • Whole Foods grocery run
  • story time with after school kids: listened to Alan Rabinowitz on The Moth Radio and identified the elements of this story of “letting go.” We then took turns sharing our own stories. Some of the stories were extremely personal, emotional, and powerful.

Thursday, January 12
  • finished building French intensive beds
  • laid compost on spiral beds and planted clover in the walkways
  • levee tour
  • broke down old mirliton trellises
  • drove after-school kids home

Friday, January 13
  • bent and raised poles for new hoophouse
  • rebuilt shelves and reorganized old hoophouse
  • thinned tomato starts
  • watering leeks and onions
  • put plastic on most of the new hoophouse
  • Missoula group departed

Saturday, January 14
  • Whole Foods ride-along- OSBG collects green waste from one Whole Foods location, six days per week to use in our compost
  • chickens- feeding, gathering eggs, fixing the fence after a dog got to one of the chickens
  • finished thinning tomatoes while Nathanael built mini-trellises on the mirliton pots
  • put white plastic on the rest of the new hoophouse hoops

Monday, January 16
  • I drove Randy (blue truck- green truck is Dandy) for the Whole Foods run! I really like getting up with the sun. Driving in New Orleans is insane. Ever look at a map of this place?
  • chickens
  • worked on hoophouse ends
  • watering
  • picked up 20 bags of leaves for compost from a gentleman up the road
  • grocery store run (Winn Dixie in St. Bernard Parish AKA “the Parish”)

Tuesday, January 17
  • Whole Foods
  • I began reading Bill Mollison’s chapter on aquaculture
  • finished the new hoophouse (tentatively dubbed Patches)!
  • Nathanael made pesto eggs for breakfast- yum!
  • harvested hot peppers and lettuce for the New Orleans Food Co-op
  • discovered our sprinkler had been broken, so I watered by hand
  • unloaded Whole Foods load into compost with after-school kids
  • found yellow slime mold in the old hoophouse
  • found volunteer kohlrabi in the beets bed!
  • harvested kohlrabi, beets, chard, and peppers for dinner
  • Nathanael made some amazing hot sauce
  • I pruned the giant volunteer tomato in the corner of the old hoophouse. Pruning tomatoes is pretty much my favorite thing.

Wednesday, January 18
  • Whole Foods score! An entire box of frozen, pre-proofed butter croissants, and fancy cheese and baked goods discards
  • death by croissants for breakfast
  • organized tool area
  • organized seeds
  • I found a bush bean under one of the benches and planted the beans
  • identified leafminer damage on the tomatoes- removed and destroyed the leaves
  • identified caterpillar damage on many of the tomatoes- sprayed with garlic/cayenne vodka infusion, mixed with a bit of dish soap and put in a 1:20ish water solution
  • unloaded Whole Foods load with after-school: discovered an entire bag of whole pomegranates. This turned out to be an awesome teachable moment, as none of the kids had ever seen, let alone tasted a pomegranate. It took some convincing (pomegranates look weird!), but every single kid eventually tried and loved them. They each ate a whole one and took one home. We talked about pomegranate origins, nutritional value, and folklore.
  • Now we want a pomegranate tree at OSBG ;)
  • Quinn used her cameras to engage the creative kids in a photo activity. It’s really amazing to see these kids have opportunities to express theselves and let their artistic talent come through. It led to great discussions about dreams for the future, career goals, personal interests and talents, etc.

Hurricane Katrina not only changed the landscape of much of southern Louisiana and Mississippi, it affected entire communities. The hurricane separated families, and made communities already struggling all the more desperate.

“Hurricane Katrina had a pretty severe impact on this neighborhood… Outside our building there would have probably been about fourteen feet of water,” says Nat Turner, Founder and Director of Our School at Blair Grocery.

Always helps to have a rounded perspective of things. Hopefully, those following my blog will get to see what it is that’s really done at OSBG on a daily basis. My experience might be biased and limited to only 10 weeks, but don’t worry, I’m a critical thinker. :)

first day!

The first thing I did this morning was help make a compost pile on the side of the hoop house. This acts as both heating and insulation during the cooler months. OSBG picks up scraps and expireds from Whole Foods. As it turns out, pineapple heads take too long to biodegrade to be used in compost (we still put core and side peelings in). Other things that went into the compost pile today included expired bread and produce, and a succession of tomato plants. For the carbon input we had woodchips, and for manure OSBG uses horse manure mixed with wood bedding. After we had piled wood and manure on top of the green matter, we took the empty truck to St. Bernard Parish to get another truck load.

After lunch, I helped transplant leeks (planting! In January!) and seed sprouts. They grow radish, sunflower, onion, and pea sprouts here to sell to high-end restaurants on the other side of town. Sprouts are a high-dollar item and (obviously) takes far less time to grow than the full plant. After sprouts, I helped do a final pick of the arugula before it was tilled in and we began to spread fresh soil and measure and flatten new beds.

This is the first day I’ve done actual labor in a few months. Hopefully I will find it easier to sleep tonight than I did last night. I’m exhausted!

11 days

Until I fly down to Loooousiana for my internship with Our School at Blair Grocery! I’m almost all packed and ready to go! In preparation, I’m reading Nine Lives: Mystery, Magic, Death, and Life in New Orleans by Dan Baum.

I’m so very excited to spend some time in the Lower Ninth and remember what life outside of the homogeneous idealistic bubble is like. Not that I don’t love Missoula for everything it is and all the ways everyone here works to live ideally! I shall miss you, Last Best Place, and I will return just before the snow melts :)

A Parting Gift

Hello All,
  My six month internship with Our School at Blair Grocery is coming to a close. Fortunately, I’ll be taking all the skills, relationships, and knowledge I’ve built over the months with me as I head back to California. OSBG consistently does a terrific job at exposing young people to the realities of New Orleans and the opportunities presented by food security projects. I feel lucky to have had this opportunity and I look forward to working with OSBG in the future as I continue work in community food security and youth empowerment. As a parting gift, I’ve compiled a list of the articles, projects and videos that have stimulated my learning in these past months. I’ll keep adding to them in the weeks to come, and you should feel free to do the same.
Simply click the link and explore the resources available.
Food Regime Resource Guide

Best wishes in your relationships and pursuits,

P.S. this artwork is by Oakland activist and printmaker, Favianna Rodriguez. Check out more of her profound and poetic work atwww.Favianna.com.

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