Viet Village Urban Farm
Gardening is an important part of our local culture, health, and economy. The first Vietnamese arrived in New Orleans East in 1975. Among their first activities was to establish home based gardens to grow the traditional fruits and vegetables that were not available locally anywhere at that time. As practiced in Vietnam, surplus from the gardens was brought to a community-created open market for sale to community members and tourists. This market, which has been running for 35 years, is open 6am-9am every Saturday morning on Alcee Fortier Blvd.
A majority of the community backyard gardens are located along the banks of the Maxent lagoon, a free water source for the gardeners. A planned beautification project along the banks will displace these gardeners. To accommodate for the loss of garden space, implement environmental friendly practices, and create an economic enterprise, MQVN CDC purchased property large enough to accommodate all gardeners and to allow for the expansion into animal husbandry. MQVN CDC acquired 20 acres in November 2007 on Dwyer Boulevard and anticipates leasing an additional 8 acres from the City of New Orleans.
Viet Village Urban Farm project
Viet Village Urban Farm will be an intensively used productive landscape that will include a major produce market, commercial agriculture, and community gardens. These key functions will be supported by a network of green infrastructure and a range of community facilities that encourage the use of the site by everyone in the community.
The farm is designed to be sustainable both culturally and environmentally. Agricultural production will follow sustainable, ecological, and organic practices, energy will be used efficiently, water will be managed on site, and waste will be recycled. The project builds on a long tradition of productive gardening and farming in the Vietnamese community, and combines it with the entrepreneurial spirit and energy of younger generations.
The farm will be built in several phases. Phase 1 of the implementation (scheduled to begin 2011) will involve site clearing, composting of vegetation, construction of the major circulation elements including roads and irrigation, as well as construction of community plots (25 x 25 feet). A new water management system of canals and retention ponds will detain stormwater on site and provide the means for irrigation. Phase 2 will involve the expansion of community and commercial plots, and phase 3 will involve building the farmers’ market and livestock area. Aquaphonics is also being incorporated in a nearby location.
Green Jobs Connection
The Viet Village Urban Farm goes hand-in-hand with green economic enterprise. Our combination of gardens, aquaphonics, animal husbandry, renewable energy sources, food services, and environmental education will lend itself rich partnerships with our local schools, markets, restaurants, and chefs. This strategy will integrate business development and job placement to promote three inter-related pathways to higher incomes: creation of a new green micro-enterprise owned and operated by a low-income individual; expansion of existing small businesses to create employment for low-income families; and job placement with expanding local green businesses.
Click here for a video by Green for All about the proposed project.
To date, funding sources for the project include private foundations and in-kind donations. As we are beginning our capital campaign to raise $1.5 million for phase I, we encourage inspired funders to contact us for support opportunities. We are currently acquiring the proper permits and soon we will begin the wetland mitigation process.
We have enjoyed working with our creative partners on the project: landscape architects Spackman, Mossop + Michaels; civil engineers Intuition and Logic; New Orleans Food and Farm Network; and Tulane City Center.
Recent project awards
American Society of Landscape Architecture, 2008 Award of Excellence, Analysis and Planning Category
Australian Institute of Landscape Architects, 2008 National Landscape Award, Landscape Planning Category
Viet Village Urban Farm in the National Design Triennial, Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum 2010
Viet Village Urban Farm in Actions: What You Can Do with Cities, Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the fine Arts, Chicago, 2009-2010
Viet Village Urban Farm in Actions: What You Can Do with Cities, Canadian Centre for Architecture Montreal, 2008-2009
(Photo: Spackman, Mossop+Michaels)