LVI is starting a project to transform empty or abandoned lots into urban farms to grow wetland restoration plants and organic produce to teach our students environmental science, business, and horticulture. Students in the program will receive not only instruction in the issues that relate directly to the project, but also advanced, high-skills training in environmental management practices (with several certificates that are “gold standards” in their market sub-disciplines), allowing extraordinary career flexibility upon graduation.
Entrepreneurship will play a vital part of the program. The intent is to sell the plants to various organizations and schools that will replant them in the wetlands. Students will create a business plan and a marketing strategy and serve as sales agents, taking an active hand in the process of selling. This strategy will allow for business skills instruction and serve as a cost recovery methodology that will contribute post-grant program sustainability.
The first step, then, in the horticultural component, is wetland plant cultivation. Rebuilding wetlands is among the most critical step towards protecting New Orleans from another devastating hurricane. Wetlands serve as natural barriers that disperse energy, but also which are natural bioreactors with the ability to effectively contain and, in some cases, neutralize contaminants. Fundamental will be hands-on instruction in identifying native wetland species, and best practices for repopulating wetland environments with the appropriate vegetative suite to provide long-term sustainability.
As the first lot develops and we are able to expand our efforts to a second lot, we would like to shift focus to growing organic produce to sell to various farmer?s markets and restaurants. During this phase, we expect the income from the project to increase and fund any future developments. Finally, if we can gain access to a lot in a remote location, we would like to start a soil/composting site to teach our students not only about the importance of clean soil, but about methods to remediate contaminated soil. This would tie-in the course to the Brownfields aspect of our program, which focuses on Phase I-III assessments of contaminated commercial properties. This aspect of the project is a natural bridge to environmental science instruction, related to Brownfields redevelopment issues on commercial properties, that LVI already provides and in which the organization has a significant depth of experience.
- Green Coast Enterprises
In the Spring of 2009 we will help Green Coast Enterprises initiate Project Sprout, a plan to remediate contaminated lots using bio-fuel crops in an effort to revitalize neighborhoods and encourage redevelopment.
- LSU AgCenter
The LSU AgCenter exists to develop and deliver practical, useful, life-enhancing information to the citizens of Louisiana. They strive to make the work product of one of the finest research and extension teams in the United States available to all. With an enormous amount of information on their Web site already, developing new material remains an intensive, ongoing effort.
- Hollygrove Market
assisted in the development of demonstration garden beds;
- City Park Pelican Greenhouse
Helped propagate Wetland Restoration Plants.
Potential Jobs & Placements
Louisiana State University - School of The Coast and Environment
SC&E, the School of the Coast & Environment at LSU, is a global leader in wetland and environmental research and the management of coastal resources. An interdisciplinary faculty of national and international stature in the Department of Oceanography & Coastal Sciences and the Department of Environmental Sciences trains tomorrow?s scientists, managers, Oceanography & Coastal Sciences and the Department of Environmental Sciences trains tomorrow?s scientists, managers, and policymakers and conducts basic and applied research bearing on the coastal wetlands and the environment.