NOAHH Shows Off Our Green Thumbs With HUGS

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Have you heard about the Habitat Urban Gardens program? The HUG program allows local groups to grow everything from fruit trees and flowers to vegetables and herbs on NOAHH’s unused lots. HUG helps create new resources for residents where NOAHH builds as part of its mission to renew communities while also saving NOAHH $40,000 per year in lot maintenance costs. NOAHH currently has 40 lots in use by 15 people and organizations.

Meet HUG partner Jeanette Bell, a 15-year-plus New Orleans resident. Jeanette has been gardening since she was 5 years old. Her flower and vegetable gardens called Garden on Mars are located on two vacant lots in the Lower Ninth. Here she teaches anyone who wants to learn how to grow organically both for their own consumption and to sell to local restaurants, markets, and florists.

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Why did Jeanette choose the Lower Ninth Ward? She says it started years ago when she accidentally made a wrong turn into the neighborhood and was struck by the vast amount of open land. For several years, she thought about what she could do to replace the storm-torn landscape with beauty. Thus, the idea was born to teach others how to garden in order to rejuvenate the landscape in the Lower Ninth and earn a little additional income. Jeanette’s gardening techniques are relaxing, low maintenance, and designed for people who work all day.

Recently, Jeanette was awarded $5,000 from the Propeller Pitch Competition. Her pitch: Give 30 Lower Ninth Ward residents a 4’x 8’ kitchen box that costs $100 to build, then show them how to save $100 on their monthly grocery bill by teaching them to grow the items they purchase the most. To do this, you begin with a simple question, “What do you buy when you grocery shop?”, and then plan from there. Seed by seed, Garden on Mars is working to “give hope, health, and opportunity” to the Lower Ninth Ward community.

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