New Orleans Mission to build new farm for feeding homeless, teaching clients

NEW ORLEANS -- From the farm to the table, the New Orleans Mission is getting a new farm to feed the homeless.

The New Orleans Mission, the largest homeless shelter in the Gulf South, announces a new partnership with the Recirculating Farms Coalition (RFC), a sustainable farming training and advocacy organization.

RFC will build its new farm -- Growing Local NOLA, Deux -- on Mission-owned land between Clio and Erato streets on Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard.

The farm will provide fresh food for Mission meals and also provide mentorship and training to participants in the Mission’s career prep program. Additionally, RFC built raised garden beds at the Mission’s Women’s House at 1129 Baronne Street and will host gardening and health supportive cooking classes for the female residents using food grown on site.

“We provide more than 6,000 meals per week to homeless individuals throughout our city,” says David Bottner, Executive Director of the New Orleans Mission. “Our work with the Recirculating Farms Coalition will not only help us continue to feed the hungry, but it will also serve as an education and training tool that we can use to help people get their lives back on track. This is truly an exciting partnership.”

In a city where prices for land are ever increasing, and available space is often small, rocky or paved over, or too polluted for in-ground growing, RFC is using innovative growing methods that also minimize resource use and maximize growing capacity. The new farm will grow both in-ground and through aquaponics, a method that combines hydroponics (growing plants in nutrient-rich water) and aquaculture (raising fish). The infrastructure for this farm is currently being built, and the initial planting is expected to take place within the week.

“We are very excited to be working with the New Orleans Mission,” says Marianne Cufone, Executive Director of the Recirculating Farms Coalition. “Everyone should have access to fresh food. This partnership provides our homeless population with local vegetables, fruit and herbs and on-the-job training in a green business that can benefit both the trainees and our City, by rewarding us with more people who can grow healthy local food. Collaborating with the Mission is a big step forward.”