The point is to help residents grow and tend gardens. Gardens are good at reducing blight, and they’re great at naturally buffering land against storm-water retention. You might recall the sad irony of New Orleans’s levees: The very barricades designed to protect the city against hurricanes actually sank its best native defenses, the wetlands.
So Growing Home is trying to sprout 100 acres of greenery to counteract the larger forces conspiring against New Orleans. A newish city ordinance gives residents first dibs on state-owned vacant property next door. If they promise to green it up, they get as much as $10,000 knocked off the sticker price. (Parcels go for $4,000 to $135,000.) Not a bad deal for planting some seeds.
Growing Home got underway in February; now it has more than 500 participants. That includes Yolanda Penn (top), a native of the Upper 9th Ward, who prettied her new land with marigolds, hibiscus, and dusty millers.
That also includes Algiers resident Valerie Woziniak, who transformed her property into a community garden:
Joyce Hickman, of Carrolton, lost her house in Katrina. She rebuilt, then turned the next-door plot into a green rainwater collector:
We’re not clear how you go about making sure the program’s participants actually follow through. We’re guessing there are plenty of delinquent gardeners or people who just don’t have much of a green thumb. But we’ve got an idea for maintaining oversight and convincing more residents to join up: Turn it into a design contest. Whomever has the best garden gets their land for free. Now that’s sexy stuff.
[Images courtesy of Growing Home]