The Walls Project Awarded $100,000 National Endowment for the Arts Grant
LSU Coastal Sustainability Studio to help develop a
master plan for the Community Farm in North Baton Rouge
Over a year ago, Baton Roots Community Farm’s groundbreaking at BREC Howell Park signaled a new community-wide investment in North Baton Rouge. Today, with an $100,000 award from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), Baton Roots is on track to becoming a fresh food oasis in the midst of a food desert.
With recent support from the NEA, the nonprofit, Walls Project, which runs Baton Roots, is partnering with LSU Coastal Sustainability Studio to develop a comprehensive master plan and site design for the once underutilized golf course. LSU Coastal Sustainability Studio faculty and students will lend their technical expertise in architecture and landscape architecture to help develop the plan with the local community, HealthyBR, BREC and Build Baton Rouge, the parish’s redevelopment authority.
Baton Roots Community Farm grew from the Mayor-President Broome's Geaux Get Healthy coalition to improve the well-being of citizens by promoting active lifestyles and access to fresh foods, primarily in areas where a grocery store is more than a 10 minutes away.
“We are honored to be selected by the NEA for this prestigious grant. Baton Roots is the culmination of 8 years of building partnerships to elevate our impact with arts, workforce, and community health programs. The Walls welcomes all residents of Howell Park and leaders from across the city to be a part of the planning process. Together we will explore ideas for community amenities at the farm like a new event pavilion equipped with an outdoor demonstration kitchen, farmers market, and a public art system throughout the entire park to inspire the imagination and encourage intergenerational exercise outdoors."
said Casey Phillips, The Walls Project Executive Director.
Baton Roots Community Farm opened in January 2019 during MLK Fest with the intergenerational Harmony Garden and is expanding to 4-acres of farm rows to yield 200,000 lbs of fresh food in North Baton Rouge. It currently offers multiple programs, including a youth urban agriculture training program, Hustle & Grow, and ‘Garden-In-a-Box’ which promotes growing backyard gardens to encourage healthy eating and food sustainability in communities.
The new NEA Our Town grant will fund the development of a comprehensive master plan for the farm engaging artists, designers, engineers, students and residents to repurpose additional acreage in the abandoned golf course of a flood-prone area of North Baton Rouge.
“At the LSU Coastal Sustainability Studio, our creative faculty and students come together to reimagine communities and spaces. Through our design studios, they put ideas onto paper, which will serve as the blueprint for the Baton Roots Community Farm and community transformation for years to come,”
said Traci Birch, LSU Coastal Sustainability Studio Director.
The Walls Project will collaborate with Chicago-based artist Faheem Majeed to lead discussions with members of the local community, artists and LSU design students to begin the process of developing artistic concepts and ways to integrate art into this part of Baton Rouge that has endured decades of disinvestment, hyper-segregation and systemic poverty.
Baton Roots Community Farm is one of 51 nationwide projects awarded by the National Endowment for the Arts.
“These awards demonstrate the resilience of the arts in America, showcasing not only the creativity of their arts projects but the organizations’ agility in the face of a national health crisis,” said Mary Anne Carter, Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts. “We celebrate organizations like the Baton Roots Community Farm for providing opportunities for learning and engagement through the arts in these times.”
LSU Coastal Sustainability Studio faculty and students will lend their technical expertise in architecture and landscape architecture to help develop the plan.
“For two years beginning next spring, the LSU Coastal Sustainability Studio will organize design studios where our students and professors will work collaboratively with the project’s contracted artists and design consultants to help develop a master plan for the Baton Roots Community Farm. Our intention is to help this valuable community space grow in scope from agricultural programming to creative placemaking by incorporating public art with community gardening, green infrastructure and urban ecology,”
said Nicholas Serrano, LSU Landscape Architecture Assistant Professor, who is a principal investigator for the project.
For more information on this National Endowment for the Arts grant announcement, visit arts.gov/news.