Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Fruit trees find a home in Louisiana's ProStart program

While on Facebook one evening, an LRA staff member saw a post from the Southern Food and Beverage Museum announcing that in partnership with the New Orleans Food and Farm Network it will distribute 1,000 fruit trees to residents, organizations and programs to those interested. A quick response resulted in the LRA Education Foundation landing 50 lime, key lime, pink grapefruit, lemon and blood orange trees.
ProStart Students at East St. John High School plant five
fruit trees on campus, made possible by the LRAEF
and the New Orleans Food and Farm Network.
“We had an overwhelming response to our tree offer,” said Sanjay Kharod, NOFF Executive Director. “We look forward to working with the LRAEF to bring more edible programs to ProStart schools.”
Just days prior, ProStart Coordinator James Blanchard and VP of Communications Wendy Waren were discussing the edible garden concept and how the LRAEF could help get them going in ProStart programs.”

The two jumped on the opportunity. Blanchard contacted the teachers and Waren handled logistics. She has a history of coordinating tree and edible garden plantings with Home Depot, Hands On New Orleans, Parkway Partners, Hike for KaTreena for New Orleans two schools, parks and neutral grounds.

“Edible gardens at schools have been increasing in popularity and several of the ProStart teachers have been asking how they can start a garden for their ProStart programs,” said ProStart coordinator James Blanchard. “It was good looking out on Wendy’s part to secure the $1,500 tree donation for the program.”

East St. John ProStart Students proudly pose with their
newly-planted fruit trees.
The LRAEF phase of the project was multi-faceted and involved borrowing a box truck from LRA member Jim Besselman of Ernst’s CafĂ© in New Orleans and a Saturday morning staff effort. The trees were held and watered for a week while ProStart teachers were coordinated to pick up the trees. Each teacher was asked to plant the trees on campus with their students.
“Having trees that will produce fruit in the years to come will greatly add to the culinary opportunities of our students,” said Blanchard. “The availability of these citrus fruits will aid the teachers when teaching sauces or desserts for example.”

The project called, NOLA Edible Forest, was made possible by the Apache Foundation Tree Grant Program.

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