Naming the Goal: Pontchartrain Basin Agricultural Network

The Lake Pontchartrain Basin is a 10,000 square mile watershed encompassing 16 Louisiana parishes. The land use of the region is both rural and urban.  It is the most densely populated region in Louisiana, including metro New Orleans and the state capital, Baton Rouge.  The Basin is one of the largest estuarine systems in the Gulf of Mexico and contains over 22 essential habitats and numerous rare plants. 

Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation website

For a region known for its legendary food,  southeastern Louisiana’s direct marketing farming production remains shockingly sparse and largely disconnected. For example, New Orleans has a majority African-American population and longstanding Central American and Vietnamese communities, yet has few successful production farmers that serve or who come from those communities. The Native American/indigenous population continues to protect the land but is not given enough direct support to lead the way. The city of New Orleans hosts fewer than a half-dozen regularly scheduled farmers markets and has few sustained sites or support for encouraging or brokering intermediate (small grocers, family restaurants, and food box programs) sales for direct marketing farmers. Few multi-generational farms exist in the region, partly due to the heavy emphasis on commodity production via plantation-style farming. Lastly, the region lacks long-term networks and funding of support around training, marketing, and education for farmers and for food shoppers. The increasing fragility of the entire Gulf Coast is partly to blame, as is the overdevelopment of the productive land in the parishes across the watershed.

By establishing the Pontchartrain Basin Agricultural Network (PBAR) as a valuable and unique initiative, we can increase support for regionally grown food by connecting the entrepreneurial activity within the regional food system to climate change initiatives in the Gulf Coast.

This idea was born from the work many have done over the last 20+ years in and around New Orleans. I hope to see the network included in plans and funding that are mitigating climate instability and supporting entrepreneurs and residents in being better stewards of our place. How we expect to begin:

1. To build the Pontchartrain Basin Ag Network WordPress site with a focus on mapping production and case studies, interviews, and news stories of any strong climate and food work in the region.

2. To lend support to direct to consumer farms or outlets through technical assistance or resource development for mitigating climate events on their businesses.

Feel free to get in touch with me via this site if you have suggestions or comments about the PBAR idea.

CFSC National Conference: October 16-19, 2010

Short Courses and Field Trips

Friday, October 15

9:00 am – 4:00 pm
Trip: Outlaw Local Food? I don’t think so!(FULL)
11:00 am – Sat.
Trip: Returning to Our Roots: A Cajun Experience
12:00 – 4:00 pm
Trip: Revitalizing Main Street with Food (FULL)
4:00 – 6:30 pm
Course: Field Guide to Evaluation, Part I

Saturday, October 16

7:00 am – 6:00 pm
Trip: Cooperation is the Name of the Game
7:30 am – 12:00 pm
Trip: Food Deserts, Food Swamps & Food Access (FULL)
8:30 am – 4:30 pm
Trip: Fisheries, Food, and Environmental Justice
8:30 am – 4:30 pm
Trip: Lower Ninth Ward Food Projects
8:30 am – 12:30 pm
Course: Food Policy Councils: Getting Started, Moving Forward (FULL)
8:30 am – 12:30 pm
Course: Growing Urban Agriculture Through Policy Change
9:00 am – 5:00 pm
Course: Food Safety and Liability Insurance Issues
9:00 am – 5:00 pm
Course: Field Guide to Evaluation, Part II
1:30 – 5:30 pm
Trip: NOLA Urban Agriculture
1:30 – 5:30 pm
Trip: Growing Healthy Kids in New Orleans Schools
1:30 – 5:30 pm
Course: Food Policy Impacts

Field Guide to Evaluation

Jeanette Abi-Nader, CFSC
Michelle Kobayashi, National Research Center, Inc.

Amber Baker, Janus Youth Programs
Eca-Etabo Wasongolo, Janus Youth Programs

FRIDAY 10/15, 4:00 PM – 6:30 PM & SATURDAY 10/16, 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM

COST: $95.00

(cost includes Lunch and CFP Evaluation Handbook and Toolkit and TOOLS Only CD)

A comprehensive two-day intensive focused on outcome-based evaluation strategies, tools and analysis designed expressly for Community Food Project (CFP) grantees and other CFP practitioners. Come learn how to tell the story of your work’s impact. Trainers will focus on all stages of program evaluation and include innovative evaluation strategies and learning tools.

Food Safety and Liability Insurance Issues for Marketing to Institutions

Kristen Markley, Community Food Security Coalition
David Runsten, Community Alliance with Family Farmers
Steve Warshawer, Wallace Center/National Good Food Network
Glyen Holmes, New North Florida Cooperative
Christy Cook, Sustainability Support Sodexo
Vonda Richardson, Florida A&M University Cooperative Extension Programs
Cheryl Wixson, Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association
Jennifer Hashley, New Entry Sustainable Farming Project

SATURDAY 10/16, 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM


This course will detail the findings of a CFSC project funded by USDA’s Risk Management Agency (RMA) regarding food safety and liability insurance barriers and possible solutions for producers marketing to local schools, colleges, and other institutions. Attendees will increase their knowledge of food safety standards developed by organizations representing limited resource farmers and learn what’s happening at the national level around food safety policies. Attendees will leave with strategies for assisting farmers in their region in developing supportive structures and collaborative solutions for meeting food safety and liability insurance requirements. Join CFSC and RMA project partners (Community Alliance with Family Farmers, Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association, and New Entry Sustainable Farming Project) in exploring and strategizing creative methods for supporting farmers in addressing these challenging issues.

Growing Urban Agriculture through Policy Change

Betsy Johnson, CFSC Urban Agriculture Committee Co-Chair
Cynthia Price, CFSC Urban Agriculture Committee Co-Chair
Martin Bailkey, Dane County Food Policy Council
Katherine Kelly, Kansas City Center for Urban Agriculture
Megan Lott, CFSC
J.P. Muhly, Baltimore, MD
Andrea Petzel, City of Seattle
John Shaffer, The University of Memphis

SATURDAY 10/16, 8:30 AM – 12:30 PM

COST: $35.00

This course will offer background information, case studies, policy status updates, and a wide variety of tools (from assessments to customizable materials to make one’s case) to help participants support and foster policy that encourages urban agriculture at the Federal, state, and local levels. Attendees are encouraged to attend the “New Orleans Urban Agriculture” field trip in the afternoon.

Food Policy Councils: Getting Started, Moving Forward (Food Policy Part I) (FULL)

Mark Winne, CFSC
Cindy Torres, Boulder County Farmers’ Market Association

SATURDAY 10/16, 8:30 AM – 12:30 PM

COST: $35.00

Community food security practitioners are developing local and state food policy organizations – councils, networks, coalitions – across North America to coordinate their food system stakeholders and to influence food policy. The course will engage participants in a series of activities designed to increase their ability to organize and manage local/state food policy organizations. Attendees are encouraged to attend the “Making Food Policy Impacts” course in the afternoon.

Food Policy Impacts: Making the case for Healthy Economies and Healthy People (Food Policy Part II)

Ken Meter, Crossroads Resource Center
Sarah Hackney, Gorge Grown Food Network
Zoraya Bernadete Souza, Brazil
Sarah Franklin
Kathryn Strickland, North Alabama Food Co-operative
Regi Haslett-Marroquin, Rural Enterprise Center

SATURDAY 10/16, 1:30 PM – 5:30 PM

COST: $35.00

Community foods initiatives that are savvy about their local economy gain greater strength, because economics is often the basis for policy. This workshop highlights success stories from U.S. communities where local economic initiatives made impact. Visionary food and health policies adopted by cities in Brazil will also be featured. Attendees are encouraged to attend the “Food Policy Councils” course in the morning.

Returning to Our Roots: A Cajun Experience

11:00 AM FRIDAY 10/15 – 4:00 PM SATURDAY 10/16 (OVERNIGHT)


Since the mid-1700s, the Acadians have made their home in the area around the Atchafalaya River and developed one of America’s unique cuisines. Cajun food developed here, growing out of the bounty of the bayous and the climate of the region. Join us on this tour to explore the history of Louisiana agriculture, tour bayous, and be immersed in Cajun Culture.

On Friday, the group will meet at the hotel and drive to Lafayette to visit the Gotreaux Family Farm, where a family of 12 is raising a large variety of crops from tilapia to turkeys.  Young farmers who are reinventing Louisiana agriculture will  discuss their innovative projects. After a great dinner at the LA Seafood Housefeaturing Gotreaux products, the group will head to downtown Lafayette for a live concert.

On Saturday, the trip will head to the Lafayette Hub City Farmers’ Market and then   visit with a family that has been on the same land since the first Acadians arrived at Brookshire Farm.  After a visit to EarthShare Gardens to see their exciting work, the group will tour the Acadiana Cultural Center and head back to New Orleans.

Outlaw Local Food? I don’t think so! (FULL)

FRIDAY 10/15, 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM


Journey into the heart of Bayou country to visit the Fonseca family that started Outlaw Katfish on Bayou Des Allemandes and get an intimate view of fishing in Louisiana. The Fonseca family has been influential in both the marketing and policy changes that allow sustainable traditional fishers to succeed in bringing Louisiana seafood to resident’s tables. Lunch will be provided directly from the Bayou and followed by a visit to a fish market in the city where many Louisiana fishers sell their products.  Participants will learn first hand how the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is dramatically altering the livelihoods and culture of the region.

Revitalizing Main Street with Food: Tour of OC Haley Boulevard (FULL)

FRIDAY 10/15, 12:00 – 4:00 PM


In the last five years, parts of Central City have experienced major revitalization projects, many of which are focused on improving access to healthy food. This walking tour will start with lunch at Café Reconcile, a non-profit restaurant that trains youth from the community, providing them with the skills for a future in the culinary industry. We will also visit the New Orleans Missions, Latino Farmers Cooperative, and the Mahalia Jackson Children and Family Center.

Cooperation is the Name of the Game: the Mississippi Farmers Co-op

SATURDAY 10/16, 7:00 AM – 6:00 PM


The Mississippi Association of Cooperatives (MAC) is a successful model of local farmers collaborating to provide fresh produce, meat, and prepared foods to schools, grocery stores, and casinos, among other institutions. This group will meet with members of a seafood cooperative and travel to Indian Springs Cooperative to meet with Ben Burkett, Director of MAC, and farmers who are a part of MAC.

Food Deserts, Food Swamps & Food Access in Urban Communities (FULL)

SATURDAY 10/16, 7:30 AM – 12:00 PM

COST: $35

Learn about the history of food distribution and business ventures in New Orleans on this tour of grocery stores and markets. The group will visit the Crescent City Farmers Market; Angelo Brocato, a century-old Italian ice cream and pastry business for a tasty treat; Terranova’s Supermarket, a family-owned market and butcher shop established in 1925; Rouses, a local grocery store chain; Hollygrove Market & Farm, an urban garden that sells local produce and prepared foods; and Jack and Jake’s, the newest local and organic grocery store.

Fisheries, Food, and Environmental Justice in New Orleans East

SATURDAY 10/16, 8:30 AM – 4:30 PM


The largest urban wildlife sanctuary in the continental US is located in New Orleans East, a community under attack from environmental pollution. Beginning at the Mary Queen of Vietnam Church, participants will see the Viet Village Urban Farm and discuss the creative ways this community is building a sustainable food system. The group will also visit nearby community and backyard gardens and stop at the Dong Phuong Oriental Bakery, a famous bakery that serves French and Vietnamese pastries.

Lower Ninth Ward Food Projects

SATURDAY 10/16, 8:30 AM – 4:30 PM


Jenga Mwendo, founder of the Guerrilla Garden, will lead a service project at her community garden and discuss food access projects in the Lower Ninth Ward. Participants will hear from the founders of the NOLA Food Co-op, a community owned grocery store opening in 2011, and tour the neighborhood see the efforts of many groups to rebuild a sustainable neighborhood.

NOLA Urban Agriculture

SATURDAY 10/16, 1:30 AM – 5:30 PM

COST: $35

With 66,000 acres of vacant land, urban agriculture is on the rise in New Orleans! Tour a variety of projects that are sprouting all over the city – Desire Street Ministries, Covenant Farms, Hollygrove Market & Farm, Little Sparrow, and Sun Harvest Kitchen, to name a few. Led by the New Orleans Food & Farm Network, the trip will illustrate how communities are working to improve access to healthy food.

Growing Healthy Kids in New Orleans Schools

SATURDAY 10/16, 1:30 AM – 5:30 PM

COST: $35

New Orleans schools are building gardens left and right. This tour will visit Dr. King Charter School in the Lower 9th Ward, Langston Hughes Academy Charter School in Mid-City, and the Edible Schoolyard in Uptown to see examples of school gardens. Participants will enjoy a cooking demonstration at Edible Schoolyard New Orleans and discuss the benefits of teaching kitchens in schools.


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