As community gardens continue to evolve as a viable food source in neighborhoods around the country, the way produce is shared has become symbolic of how sowing brings people together. Defined as the “cultivation, production, and distribution of agriculture products,” modern tilling draws from ancestorial learning, and is much more intimate in nature. SPROUT NOLA, a community food source organization in New Orleans, Louisiana, knows this first-hand. Their commitment to supporting local food economies is an ode to the building process that helps other entrepreneurs in the industry thrive.
“New Orleans has always been a city of growers. That is showcased in many ways” says Mina Seck, community food coordinator for SPROUT NOLA. “It’s our community gardens and farms, the elders who have remedies and tricks ingrained in them, small nurseries dedicated to native plants, schools with an agricultural department for students, and farmers' markets, to name a few. Urban agriculture is a new word for a very old practice. As long as people have lived in cities, they’ve grown food in them.”
SPROUT NOLA is helping to advance local agriculture efforts by partnering with farmers, facilitating farmer training programs, holding farming networking workshops (such as the Truck Farm Table Market) and even supporting city residents as they cultivate their own gardens at home. It’s critical work, a major component for food ownership and future growth. And for SPROUT, it’s more than just food sourcing—its planting proverbial seeds meant to secure and sustain a much richer vision and legacy.
“Farming and agriculture are a part of Black American’s history. For generations, families
lived off and cared for the land. Those traditions were lost over decades for various reasons. Our organization supports land ownership, reparations, and educational programs that can help those whose land has been stolen or whose connection to agriculture is damaged through discrimination and oppression, especially the Black community.” shares SPROUT NOLA’s Executive Director, Marguerite Green. “SPROUT believes everyone deserves access to food. Locally and sustainably grown food should be available to everyone, and it is unfortunately not the case. Whether it’s making it easier for those that grow our food, accessible to those that need it, or educating those that don’t understand the benefits of locally grown food, SPROUT strives to be a support system. Making sure our communities are taken care of fuels our passion.”
In addition, to producing vibrant fruits and vegetables such as beets, peppers, tomatoes, okra, eggplants, cucumbers, peas, sweet potatoes and papaya, SPROUT curates more than 20 beds that are used for feeding the community during weekly open volunteer days. As well, they supply harvest for community fridges, and offer free plants from their greenhouse for individuals, schools, and churches. SPROUT’s partnerships play an integral role in the work they do and help to support their growing initiatives long term.
“In conjunction with a community mural painting, Kellogg made a grant to SPROUT that allowed us to distribute funds to multiple, black-led garden projects and invest in their infrastructure and operations,” says Green. “In 2021 Kellogg supported our reparations campaign with a gift that is allowing us to support nine Black and Indigenous rural and urban farms in Louisiana so they can protect, acquire, and improve the land that is rightfully theirs.”