Sunday, August 29, 2010

Hope grows sustainably and irrepressibly in New Orleans

Five years after Hurricane Katrina devastated one of America's greatest cities, a hardworking and talented group of urban farmers are bringing vegetables and vigor to a part of town where fresh produce had long been unavailable:

When the levee along the Industrial Canal failed back in 2005 and the wall of water drowned much of New Orleans' Lower Nine, the area north of Claiborne Avenue - the poorest section of the neighborhood - was hardest hit. Not surprisingly, the stretch has been slowest to recover. Five years after the devastating hurricane, the area still does not have a supermarket or store that sells fresh produce. Today, where houses once stood, jungle-like growths have consumed the lands. Other homes, still abandoned, are slanted and Burtonesque.

But just as strange is another thing in the neighborhood, right on Benton Street between North Roman and North Debigny. "We call it 'The Volcano'," says Brennan Dougherty. "We just started the compost pile back in April, and it's already almost 15 feet tall and 40 feet long." Then like a proud parent she adds, "It produces the most beautiful soil you've ever seen." Dougherty is the manager of a farm in the Lower Nine where organic vegetables are grown and goats raised where drug deals used to take place.

What's more, Dougherty is inspiring young people in other urban areas to plant and grow. Do read the whole thing--it will brighten your day!

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