March 28, 2012 5:45 AM
During NCAA Final Four week, Tulane University and the NCAA will help make New Orleans a healthier and more sustainable community by providing 64 blackberry bushes and infrastructure for a new fruit orchard for Grow Dat Youth Farm, a community project that teaches high school students from diverse backgrounds how to grow and sell fresh produce.
On Thursday (March 29), middle school students from Langston Hughes Academy will join Tulane student-athletes to plant citrus trees on the farm’s new four-acre home in City Park.
The event, called “Growing Opportunity,” kicks off with encouragement from speakers like Tulane President Scott Cowen; Bernard Franklin, NCAA executive vice president and chief inclusion officer; and Elizabeth Clay Roy, deputy director of Opportunity Nation, national empowerment group promoting greater access to the American Dream.
“By investing in the long-term stewardship and enhancement of natural and human resources on the farm, Growing Opportunity partners are collaboratively supporting a more self-sufficient and resilient New Orleans,” says Johanna Gilligan, Grow Dat Youth Farm co-director.
The event will — literally — bear fruit by supporting leadership and job training for young people in the community and by supplying delicious, locally grown produce for years to come. Grow Dat students sell 60 percent of the farm’s output at local farmers’ markets and donate the other 40 percent to those in need in their community.
The fruit orchard is expected to become a significant source of revenue. By the sixth season, the citrus trees can produce roughly 5,000 pounds of fruit worth approximately $10,000; during the same time period, blackberry bushes can produce an expected 3,000 pounds of fruit worth around $10,000, Gilligan said.
Grow Dat is supported by multiple units within Tulane, including Tulane City Center and the Office for Social Entrepreneurship. Students from the School of Architecture designed the farm’s new campus and its headquarters building, under construction in City Park.
Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118 504-865-5000 firstname.lastname@example.org