5 Urban Farms Reshaping the Food World in New Orleans

2. Little Sparrow Farm: Eating Within a 10-Block Radius

Founded: 2008
Size: 30 by 100 feet (typical city lot)
Managed by: Marilyn Yank
Location: Midcity, South Cortez Street and Cleveland Avenue

Marilyn Yank wasn't looking to start an urban farm, but when the Ruby Slipper restaurant opened up shop in her Midcity neighborhood, the opportunity was too good to resist. The restaurant brokered an arrangement for Yank to begin farming a vacant lot across the street, and soon Yank was supplying the kitchen with what's become a common urban crop: microgreens. But the more Yank grew greens, the more she felt tugged in the opposite direction. "It felt like my household suffered," says Yank, who found herself growing more for market than her own kitchen. "I wanted to go back to diversity."

So this fall—the beginning of NOLA's growing season, since summer is too hot for much to grow—Yank launched a city-based CSA, recruiting four families to buy shares of the bounty from her single city lot. As a founding member of the New Orleans Food and Farm Network, Yank—who'll be carefully measuring the amount of food she produces—is hoping the endeavor will help build the case for urban food production. Right now, she says, "there's no real data about how much food gets produced on a city lot in New Orleans." By the end of the growing season, she adds, "I can say, 'Look, four or five households can eat off this.'"

NEXT: Bringing Rust Belt genius to the South

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Tracie McMillan is a freelance journalist whose work focuses on the issue of access to good food, particularly within middle- and lower-income communities. Her first book, The American Way of Eating, examines food and class in America.

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