Press Street Gardens Workshop: Grow the Block

Saturday, November 1, 8, and 15
Locations: various
Cost: free
Registration form at the bottom of this page

The Grow the Block workshop series will educate and empower  participants through direct service learning and innovative curriculum. Hosted by The NOCCA Institute and Press Street Gardens, the series will be held at the Laussat Street Garden, which currently provides the NOCCA Culinary Arts program with an abundance of fresh vegetables and herbs. Grow the Block participants will learn about topics such as wild foraging, weed control in a garden setting, urban blight, invasive species in New Orleans, and resources for accessing land for gardening in New Orleans. The art of gardening will merge with the power of education, providing participants with the knowledge needed to Grow the Block.

Workshop One: Weedeaters

“A weed is a plant whose virtues are not yet discovered”- Ralph Waldo Emerson

The purpose of this workshop is to introduce participants to the array of invasive and native plant species, typically classified as weeds, which abound in both a garden and an urban setting. Participants will learn how to identify and safely consume certain naturally growing vegetation in the garden and throughout the city of New Orleans. Simultaneously, they will learn about the medicinal, culinary, and fertilization benefits of such vegetation through direct volunteer work in the Laussat Street Garden.

Wild edible foraging safety guidelines and foraging best practices will be a key component of the workshop. This workshop will provide participants with hands-on training in proper garden maintenance while also generating awareness of potential culinary and medicinal uses of the vegetation that surrounds them on a daily basis.

Workshop Two: Reclaim the Land

This workshop will provide insight into the vegetative invaders that contribute to and overrun blighted properties and land. Participants will learn about the characteristics of native and invasive weed species in New Orleans.

Invasive and native plant species are directly linked to issues of blight in New Orleans. Blight can be categorized as part of a process whereby a previously functioning city (or portion of a city) falls into disrepair and disuse. In New Orleans, the devastating impact of Hurricane Katrina has led to a great deal of blight in the form of abandoned homes and businesses and vacant lots. In the neighborhood in which the Laussat Street Garden is located, this is visible.

Through participation in the Reclaim the Land Workshop and direct service in the the Laussat Street Garden, participants will learn about the impact that community gardening and responsible land stewardship can have on blight reduction and the beautification of the built environment. Service activities will include garden maintenance and beautification, creation of wooden signage and plant indicators, and the painting of fencing structures for the Laussat Street Garden.

Workshop Three: Parcels and Pathways

The purpose of this workshop is to equip participants with an awareness of the various “green” uses of currently vacant land and of pathways to acquisition of vacant sites.

The Parcels and Pathways workshop will broaden the spectrum of land maintenance options for people interested in initiating community greening projects, and will elucidate for participants the various methods of land acquisition available to them. The Laussat Street Garden will be presented as one model in a milieu of models (both in terms of what is done with the site and how it was acquired)

The Parcels and Pathways workshop will involve a tour of several community green sites that fulfill a diverse array of functions (pocket parks, community orchards, herb and flower gardens), perhaps performing a brief service component at each site or as needed. In addition, participants will learn from garden managers and plot owners about the ways in which such land were acquired, as well as issues of site upkeep and development. Participants will be encouraged to bike or carpool from site to site.

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