Michaela Miller 13 posts

What it means to miss New Orleans

Posted from Camarillo, California, United States.

We have been back from New Orleans for about two weeks now, and life has somehow returned to normal routines and busy schedules. However, taking the time to reflect on my experience in New Orleans reminds me how much IMG_6311I have grown from this trip. It’s one thing to learn about a place via photos and lectures, but to really learn about a place you have to go there, talk to the people, and experience the culture, history, politics, and landscape. New Orleans is really such a unique place, everything about it is different than what I am used to. Seeing the powerful Mississippi River, salt water eroded marshes, swamps, and Cypress trees made me appreciateIMG_6430 a new kind of ecosystem. Seeing coastal erosion and extreme wetland loss was very eye opening to me.
Spending time in the Woodland Conservancy reemphasized the importance of conservation. All of these realizations made me happy to be an environmental science major, and I am excited to take what I have learned in this program and apply it to helping important areas like New Orleans.

Building food gardens was also a very eye opening experience for me. Sometimes you take advantage of having easy access to food, but not everyone has that luxury. It was rewarding to be able to help build these gardens and take part in giving a community access to food that we normally take for granted.IMG_6289

Overall, I couldn’t have asked for a better experience in New Orleans. Dr. Anderson really did an amazing job at teaching us about every aspect of New Orleans that you can think of. The most important thing I learned from this trip is to never stop asking why. I learned it is crucial to always stay engaged with what is happening in the world, and even though it may seem impossible, everyone can make a difference.

Grow Dat & New Orleans Jazz Orchestra 

Today was awesome! We started out our morning volunteering at Grow Dat, a youth farm in New Orleans. After that we entered data and then went to see the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra. I had never seen live jazz before and it was such a fun experience!  


Gator feedings and thunderstorms 

This morning we woke up at the Woodland Plantation. Foster, the owner, gave us a tour of the property and took us to feed the resident alligators. The rest of the day was thunder and lightning, so we ate lunch, made our way to the hotel, then went to the New Orleans Chinese Lights Exhibit. It was a relaxing and beautiful day.



Journey to the Southern most point in Louisiana 

Yesterday we started our day in Buros, Louisiana building a community garden at Carol’s house. This part of Louisiana was deeply affected by Hurricane Katrina and hasn’t quite recovered, so it felt good to help out and built that garden. 
After that we drove down toward Venice, Louisiana and the Southern most point of the state. It was crazy seeing the Gulf of Mexico and how salt water had eroded the cypress marsh.
We then made our way to Woodland Plantation and had a crawfish boil for dinner and stayed the night. We just finished up breakfast and I am excited to walk around the property and learn more about the history of this place.


Today’s Visit to Capstone in the Lower 9th Ward

Posted from Austin, Texas, United States.

Today our group headed to the lower 9th Ward to help a nonprofit called Capstone. IMG_6233
Capstone was started by David Young in 2009 and it is a small non-profit that has turned 30 blighted or vacant lots in the Lower 9th into food gardens and orchards.IMG_6231 The main goal of Capstone is to provide food at no cost to those who need it in the community especially because it is located in a food desert. A food desert is defined as an area s parts of the country vapid of fresh fruit, vegetables, and other healthful whole foods, usually found in impoverished areas. This is largely due to a lack of grocery stores, farmers’ markets, and healthy food providers. Capstone also assists others in the community in starting their own gardens.

Capstone also has 30 beehives. After noticing a lack of bees in empty lots in 2012, David started keeping bees because there was a need of bees in the Lower 9th. IMG_6219The honey is now being sold at farmers markets all over the city, and you can help Capstone with the bees in the Lower 9th Ward by donating here. The profits made from honey sales helps support the cost of providing food to the community.

Today we mowed a lawn at an adjacent lot across the street, and used the grass cuttings to feed the goats and chickens in the back yard of the Capstone house. Another IMG_6224cool thing about David and the Capstone house was the aquaculture pond he had set up and that we helped finish. The system has a catfish pond in the backyard hooked up to various other tanks where plants are hydroponically grown. Some species that were being grown hydroponically were red okra, cucumbers, two kinds of lettuce, kale, and many others. We helped David put together a hydroponic trough that was set up to the aquaculture system and did so by washing expanded clay and filling the trough with the clay. IMG_6203The whole system was really awesome, and it was amazing how much food could be grown in such a small area. David mentioned that 2600 pounds of organic produce can be grown with this system. Overall it was an amazing day and it felt good to help out a good cause and meet some awesome people such as David and Miss Carol.

– Michaela & Pashalle

Team Machete Mamas

Today was our first day doing vegetation surveys at the Woodlands Trail Conservancy. Sadie, Lauren, and I teamed up to form the Machete Mamas and spent our afternoon fighting blackberry and getting to know the plants. We finished two transects today and tomorrow I think we will all be even more productive.  


Historic New Orleans Collection

This morning we started off our day by going to the Historic New Orleans Museum in the French Quarter. It was awesome to spend some timing hearing about the history of such a unique place and seeing the collection there. The old hand drawn maps were my favorite with all of the intricate details.  


New Orleans School of Cooking 

Today we spent the day in the French Quarter and started off at the New Orleans School of Cooking. I had so much fun shopping at the farmers market and cooking with everyone, it was definitely a highlight of the trip so far. We spent the rest of the day exploring the French Quarter. 


Successful first day in New Orleans

Such a long but amazing day! We arrived in NOLA around 5 am this morning and have been going non stop since. In one day we managed to visit a national park, see alligators, visit with Harry Shearer, explore the French Quarter, eat amazing BBQ, and hear some good music. Excited for what’s to come!