Our work — increasing markets for farmers, incubating farms, training new farmers — is aimed toward supporting the building blocks of a new food economy. An economy with shorter supply chains — from local farms to packing and production facilities to retailers — a shorter distance from farm to fork. A Local Food Economy.
Many markets — farmers markets, restaurants, stores — want more local food sources. New farmers ask for assistance in acquiring land, apprenticeship opportunities with mentor farmers, further training to get better at growing for market. Over the years, we have made these connections, paid for special trainers to visit our area for a day of instruction, and often turn to our collaborators to further the growth of the local food system.
Building the local food economy will increase food security in the New Orleans region. NOFFN believes achieving food security requires food growing at all scales — from backyards to community gardens to small urban farms to small regional farms. NOFFN has helped catalyze projects that fill critical gaps in the system while also providing support, capacity-building, and technical assistance to a diversity of food and farming projects:
The NOLA Fruit Tree Project, Capstone, and Hollygrove Market and Farm have increased the amount of food available to residents and communities by harvesting the abundance of fruit on citrus trees, growing more food to share with neighbors, and selling local food to residents;
Market farming projects grow and thrive more every year thanks to creative and supportive collaborations between key players like Good Food NOLA, NOLA Kitchen Gardens, Supporting Urban Agriculture, VEGGI Farmers Cooperative, and NOLA Tilth;
We have democratized information on vacant lot availability with Living Lots NOLA and provided a methodology and information on transforming these lots into farms, gardens, and community spaces with the FarmCity Toolbox.
NOFFN has now strategically shifted to address enduring gaps that hinder the growth of the local food economy in Greater New Orleans.
There’s a growing demand for local food. From consumers, from markets, from stores, from chefs. With the emergence of new markets, full-time foragers employed by restaurant groups and large retail stores, and more chefs looking to source directly from farms, demand grows.
There is a history of farming in our region. In the 1800s, the area’s soil, rich from many years of flooding, provided for excellent agricultural usage. The land produced as much as four crops per year. These crops included sugar cane, indigo and many food crops. The rich soil is still there. Much less food farming occurs today.
Climate change will alter the typical supply chains we use today. The fertile land of Louisiana could become an important growing area for the region but also for more populated regions to the east and north.