The Walls Project's Baton Roots Community Farm Awarded National Endowment for the Arts Grant
LSU Coastal Sustainability Studio to help develop a master plan for the 115-acre site in North Baton Rouge
BATON ROUGE – Baton Roots Community Farm opened last year in North Baton Rouge as
a restorative landscape to support healthy lifestyles, mental welfare and environmental
security. With recent support from the National Endowment for the Arts, the LSU Coastal
Sustainability Studio will partner with the nonprofit organization The Walls Project,
which operates Baton Roots Community Farm at BREC Howell Park, and Mayor-President
Sharon Weston Broome’s HealthyBR initiative, to develop a comprehensive master plan
and site design for the 115-acre site. LSU Coastal Sustainability Studio faculty and
students will lend their expertise in design and engineering to help develop the plan
with the local community, BREC and Build Baton Rouge, the parish’s redevelopment authority.
“The LSU Coastal Sustainability Studio will facilitate design studios where our students and faculty will work collaboratively with 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 expand in scope from urban agriculture to creative place making by incorporating public art with community gardening, green infrastructure and urban ecology,” said Nicholas Serrano, LSU assistant professor of Landscape Architecture, who is a principal investigator for the project.
Baton Roots Community Farm grew from the mayor’s Geaux Get Healthy initiative, a project of HealthyBR, to improve the well-being of citizens by promoting active lifestyles and access to fresh foods in one of the city’s largest food deserts.
“We are honored to be selected by the NEA for this prestigious grant. Baton Roots is the culmination of eight years of building partnerships to elevate our impact with arts, workforce and community health programs. The Walls Project 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 exercise among people of all ages 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 four acres of farm rows to yield 200,000 pounds
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 backyard gardening to promote healthy eating and food security. The
new NEA Our Town grant will fund the development of a comprehensive master plan engaging
artists, designers, engineers, students and residents to repurpose an additional 115
acres of an abandoned golf course in 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 for years to come,” said Traci Birch, LSU Coastal Sustainability Studio director.
The Walls Project will lead community dialogue sessions with neighborhood residents, local artists, food access advocates, churches and students to begin the process of developing creative concepts and ways to integrate arts, education and healthy living into cultural assets for a part of Baton Rouge that has endured decades of disinvestment and systemic poverty.
Baton Roots Community Farm is one of 51 nationwide programs recently awarded an Our Town grant 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.”
The Walls Project's Baton Roots Community Farm: https://www.thewallsproject.org/batonroots
National Endowment for Arts Announces Second Round of Fiscal Year 2020 Funding: https://www.arts.gov/news/2020/national-endowment-arts-announces-second-round-fiscal-year-2020-funding
Contact Alison Satake
LSU Media Relations
The Walls Project