How and What Pelican Coop Has Grown
The Habitat Urban Gardens program has helped a father and daughter gardening team bring a variety of produce to 15 local restaurants.
Michelle Posey and her father, John, began their garden, Pelican Cooperative in 2012. They both needed a change of pace to their lives and thought that gardening would be good for both of them. Together, they leased five lots of land from NOAHH and started their business. NOAHH’s Urban Gardens program leases unused lots to local gardeners. Currently, there are a total of 16 gardeners renting land from NOAHH today.
“We didn’t have a traditional agricultural background,” Michelle said. “We didn’t grow citrus in Belle Chase. We didn’t grow sweet potatoes or rice. We just experimented with a bunch of different things.”
Their goal was to grow things that are not commonly seen around town, things that people cannot even get at farmers’ markets. They began to grow passion fruit, papaya and heirloom varieties.
Eventually, they contacted the chef at Root, Phillip Lopez, who came out and looked at the garden. After looking at the lot, he decided to take everything that Pelican Cooperative grew every week. Having someone buy all of their produce allowed Michelle and John to grow their business.
Today, Pelican Cooperative provides produce to various New Orleans restaurants, including Brennan’s Restaurant, Press Street Station, Gautreau’s Restaurant, MoPho, and Kin. With 11 plots of land from NOAHH, these two also have extra produce that they give away to their neighbors.
“I probably know every neighbor within a two block radius and know what vegetables they prefer,” Michelle said.
Michelle finds it satisfying to provide food for herself, local restaurants, and neighbors.
Michelle and John often make rounds at all of the restaurants they provide food for to see how their produce is being used.
“It’s like going to a family member’s house,” Michelle said, “It is always a pleasure to go out and eat at these places and to see you fruits and vegetables prepared so lovingly on a plate by friends.”