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You can keep up with the latest project developments from the people on the ground making them happen via the BWB Blog. We want to hear from you and welcome your comments.

All Hands on Deck in the Lower Ninth Ward

Hi. I’m Summer. I live in the Holy Cross now, in New Orleans. The Holy Cross is the sliver-by-the-river area of the Lower 9th Ward which didn’t get crushed by a tsunami shortly after Hurricane Katrina hit landfall. All around my neighborhood, during the day, you can hear hammering and sawing and the shouts of construction workers complaining about heat and sun. It sounds like a Deadwood background reel, or Black Rock City being built.

Meanwhile, I’m living with no refrigerator for the moment. Also, zero grocery stores exist within biking distance — reasonable biking distance — so for the past I-don’t-know-how-many days in a row, when I’m not being fed at the fancy-pants restaurant at which I toil, I partake of the HOLY CROSS BREAKFAST: Fried chicken and a pickle.

Yes. My housemate and I have even made up a New Orleans bounce song based on the trials and tribulations of living refrigerator-less in an area lacking so much as a Piggly Wiggly or a produce stand. No hope of any sun-grown vegetable haunts our nightly dreams of dinner — only pickled things and clucky clucky. The de-toxifying, delectably ingestible plant life of my Bay Area raw food eatin’ diet is gone. Now, my idea of “eating” has more to do with giant corporations fleecing people who live and die poor into thinking “red” is a flavor and “cherry” is a type of lip gloss.

This is where comes in again. Hardcore gardener Brennan Dougherty and her merry band of volunteers branched out the helping-handiness of Rick Prose’s original idea of resuscitating the Lower Ninth Ward and expanded it: Where water-logged houses threaten to fall, fixes them back up. Where Katrina’s tsunami-waters washed away homes and left empty lots full of rich Mississippi silt, sustainable neighborhood gardening can flourish. (Read Dougherty’s blog here.)

Dougherty began the Community Garden Project with little more than gumption and scrounged materials from the gutted houses in the area. The endgame isn’t only to start a sustainable, earth-friendly business in the Lower Ninth Ward — it’s also to walk the folks of the neighborhood through the process of growing their own food. Teach a man to fish, and all that.

The call has been sounded to the Burning Ham community: New Orleans is still Fd, and we haven’t been practicing building a city out of nothing for the past couple decades for no reason. Plus, you’re unemployed, and besides, what do you want with a real paying job anyway? … So if yall desert dogs are still feeling my original post, and plan on coming out here after cleanup or (ahem) “harvest” … and you don’t feel like sucking in sawdust and sheetrock all day … come dig your fingers in the dirt with Brennan at the Community Garden Project’s Villere Street Farm.

$100 a week gets you room and board in the bunkhouse, or you can pull your trailer up to my yard and wake up with the chickens.

Literally. We have chickens next door. They run all over the street and drive the fenced-up dogs crazy. Live chickies which we are hesitant to fry, when there’s delicious Holy Cross Breakfast at the Discount Zone gas station down the street. Fridge to come, as well as Villere St. Garden’s harvest, and gods willing, we’ll eat (mostly) sustainably again after that.

At any rate, come on down. We’re waiting for you. P.S. bring a bushel of kale and some fresh fruit


Want to help Summer and rebuild the Lower Ninth Ward?  Click here to donate.


4 Responses to “All Hands on Deck in the Lower Ninth Ward”

  1. Natalie Pierce says:


    Shortly after returning to LA from the Burn this year, and having heard many wonderfully fabulous things that Burners without Borders is doing, my man was offered a job shooting a film in New Orleans. He’s been there for a few weeks now, and I am quitting my jobs and leaving just in time to be there… for Halloween (muah ha ha)….AND, to help you! I’ll be there through february it looks like, so I’d love to contact you and get involved with rebuilding the lower ninth ward. I’m very into permaculture and I love, love, love, LOVE the idea of helping start a community garden. And rest assured, having been coated in playa dust many times over, I’m not afraid to get down and dirty with building and cleaning if there’s still some work to be done this late in the game. My # is 541-280-3954! Can’t wait to meet ya!

  2. derek says:

    i am thinking of coming down to NOLA for a while, have a converted school bus i can live in, and would like to help out. please email me or call 413.320.1001


  3. Sarah Villa says:

    Please let me know how I can help. I volunteered with the biodiesel project in Peru, and now I’d like to do something closer to home.

  4. Julie says:

    I will be traveling to NOLA from Utah during February and would like to help out and/or inquire about cheap/free camping. My schedule is flexible.