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One Rouge Community Check -In - Week 149

Everyone has seen a forest – but if you are from South Louisiana, chances are it’s only been in books. That’s because we don’t have forests that aren’t swamps. Or do we? Ever heard of a food forest? Food forests are designed to serve human needs and support natural ecosystems over the long term. The best part is that the forest is not annual to be replanted. Food forests can contribute so much to communities once at maturity. Baton Rouge can do these amazing things too! But where do we start? Well, with land, which is easier to obtain in the which has some distinction from many of our groups who address urban issues. However, the concepts are the same for urban areas. Our featured speakers:

  • Grant Aucoin – Chemist, permaculture educator, and food forest caretaker

  • Cyndi Nguyen - former New Orleans City Councilperson, former VIET Executive Director, and food forest caretaker

  • Robert Seemann - Director of Operations State Coordinator, Louisiana Community Forests

  • Preston Brooks - Agroforestry Coordinator

  • Chris Cooper - Program Manager Partnership Coordinator, Louisiana Community Forests

Enlight, Unite, & Ignite!



Melanie Henderson: I'm Melanie Henderson with Capital Area United Way, and as Casey said, 2 25 gives is coming. May 4th is the big day this year. We do have early giving, but. The push to get nonprofits registered is now April 4th is the last day for nonprofits. Yes, we're spraying the word and, but now we're also moving into the phase of really supporting the nonprofits that are registered and giving them all of the resources and swag items and support they need to have the most successful 225 gifts day. We also are doing a lot of media outreach and so you'll be seeing from digital TV and print ads. So if you have any questions, you can reach out to me. You can also visit the website You register online. There is a button where you can register and that those come directly to me. So I will be able to see in real time if you're eligible, if you're missing any documents. I also want to mention that April 19th. Right before early Giving starts, we will be having a kickoff party at United Way where you are all invited to come pick up swag. We have yard signs different window clings. And we also are going to put up a backdrop for you to take pictures and put on social media, send it in your electronic communications.

Grant Aucoin: I'll take any chance I get to spread food, forestry, and permaculture and I started my channel cause I didn't see anyone in Louisiana doing it. At least not very successfully. And I am a father of two young children, and years ago, a couple years back, I started to get concerned about food supply, global warming. I'm an environmental scientist by career I just felt the need that I needed to start preparing. And so I ripped up didn't rip up, but laid wood chips over a lot of my lawn and planted. I have over 30 fruit trees on a fifth of an acre. I have chickens. I make my own fertilizer out of comfy, which is a very useful plant. If you don't have it, I'll bring some food forest. What else? I just, it went from wanting to provide for myself and my family to wanting to help pretty much anyone I can. And so I give away plants for free to anyone who's interested. And I, anyone who wants to come visit can, and I like to teach them about everything I'm doing. Beyond that I don't really know. I did a lot of research on how to set it up and the food forest is just, it's the ideal way to produce an abundance of food. Cause all the system works together. You don't have to bring anything in. Once you've got the wood chips laid down and all the plants protect each other the insects come in. And if I have pests, I leave 'em and then I get predators to come in and they take care of that. So I really, it seems like a lot of work and people are like, how do you have the time to do this? But this is the simplest, laziest way to grow a ton of food. And the reason I have such a diversity of things, Is because some years we're going to get a late frost or it's going to be too hot for this crop. But if you've got 10, 15 different kinds of fruit trees and berry bushes and herbaceous and roots and all that, something is going to work for you. Something's going to make you a ton of food. And I'm already finding that I'm only, my food force has been in the ground a year and I've given away so much food already and just a lot of it ends up going to compost because I can't find people to give it away to. Yeah, come get some lettuce, come get some, whatever., I grow way too much because I've got tons of space and it's easy to integrate it all together. I guess that's it for me. Welcome or happy to answer any questions y'all have. Absolutely.

Preston Brooks: Hello. Hello everybody. I'm Preston with Rouge Green. Two of my colleagues are also in this meeting, Robert and Chris, Christopher Cooper, Robert Seaman, and basically I'm the Agro Forester Equity Coordinator here at Baton Rouge Green. And what I do here is basically I. Go into the housing authority sites are basically a lot of these low-income areas, and I've established citrus arches in those areas. For a while, Baptist Greens had a program called the Pick Event that's linked to city citrus program, where at the end of the year, they go in the harvest trees. They use volunteers to harvest trees off of people's personal property and some other established sites through the city program.

Robert Seemann: The share of the fruit program works really hard to establish a lot of the successes we had with our city citrus program. And integrate those and compliment what the walls and baton roots projects are already doing. So we have a pretty literal interpretation of agro forestry where we're actually throwing fruit trees like. Fruit, growing trees at social problems. Instead of just trying to incorporate some traditional forestry practices of non-flu grain trees into farms and permaculture. As far as food forests go we were really looking for those intersections between how property is used in agro forestry, so we're really not interested in creating any food forest just for the sake of having a food forest. And we're not necessarily interested in letting down a bunch of trees to plant a food forest, but we do like to complement existing programming and figuring out how we can use, we're three people, so we always try to find solutions to social problems and health problems with. Trees. And we also have found that everyone we've known from City of Citrus, everyone loves trees through trees and satsumas in this town. This is a sat loving, citrus loving town. And that's often a gateway conversation into the broader discussion of the benefits of trees in our area. That's actually how Baton Rouge Green got started was establishing trees in Baton Rouge where trees were being decimated due to development and interstate expansion. We really look for opportunities to compliment the successes that other people are already having. We're not trying to reinvent the wheel, and we really like those kind of nodes where it's. It's feasible because some infrastructures are already there. It's feasible because there's a need that's a clientele who needs fruit production or requests that and wants to integrate that into their daily living. And we just show up and do the best we can to help out.

Preston Brooks: We're not trying to reinvent the wheel. A lot of food for it says comes mostly like Grant has an issue. Once it's small and it's scalable and it's contained and he can basically plant everything large community size food forest will require much more maintenance. The bigger that, the bigger you make it. So what we try to do is we try to just add to already we try to co we, we try to compliment already successful programs and that's what we do by adding citrus trees to what people have going on.

Cyndi Nguyen: I don't know if I shared this with Pepper or not, but Food Forest was really something that been there that people really needed. I think for me was learning the community and you know how you do so much and you think you're doing everything and then it's been in front of you and you just didn't recognize it. And so we recognized that people were starving in our community. And then also the fact that, so I was born in Vietnam, but came to America in 1975 at the age of five. So farming and grown crops was very common to me. But then I guess in a way I became in a very positive sense, more Americanized. Where you just go to the grocery store, you buy stuff, right? But then going into the work of serving community. And not everybody has those opportunity to do that. And I recognize that. And coming from a nonprofit sector, you have limited resources. But how do you do more for everybody? And I think that's one of the good thing about nonprofit. I, I kudos to everybody that are in the nonprofit because I know that they're very creative of getting things done. And we recognize that, you know what, why wouldn't we just do the basic stuff and just grow our own stuff? And then for me, as a Vietnamese American, a lot of our vegetables are not in the American store, not in Walmart or Winn-Dixie. And so it was really critical for us to really grow our. Food that our senior citizen, our older people are accustomed to and is not the only organization that are very passionate about fruit resources for our community. We were very blessed to have the mayor Queen of Vietnam cdc who came up right after Katrina and start recognizing that we needed to do more for our community. And through their leadership and their partnership, they formed And I think Pepper this the cooperative farming agreement with Yeah. With and it's still going on. And just the other day I was very fortunate to get access to lettuce. So if you guys need lettuce, let me know because I got boo of lettuce. But it is, it's something that is still growing and many times when you have an initiative, it is really challenging to keep it sustained. Keep it going because momentum, people lose momentum. But I don't know about you guys, but seeing people starving, you could never lose. Momentum in reference to making sure you do everything you can. And in addition to just the farming and create creating our own vegetables, I've got engaged with and tapping into the food distributing, like the food pantry. I saw that right after right immediately right after when we found out there was a covid 19 in the community when people were not, did not have access to food. And so I started partnering with the food pantry. Because when I came to America, I was only five. We were on a boat, we ca and my mother was pregnant with my little brother and there was very limited. On the boat. And I remember just having to share my one bowl noodle with my pregnant mom. So in that way, she would get the nutrition. So just, if you guys remember, like two and a half years ago when Covid happened and no one knew what was happening, some of us lost their, some of us lost our job. Some of us was conf confine. Most of us were confine into our home. And so we didn't have access to nutritional food. And prior to that, communities that I live in were already struggling with access to food. So just imagine you get a Covid 19 added to it. And I did not wanted to see residents, community members in my district starving. I think it is a horrible feeling. And if you haven't been hungry, I have in my lifetime, it is something that is very painful. To see. And so I, even though I'm not representing the district, I continue to support access to quality food. I share with Pepper that I still volunteer at the Given Hope Food Pantry at least once a month to really do my part of making sure that people continue to have access to quality food. And we still support the food endeavor cooperative. So I am. Serving as a consultant for vso, I still do the work, but more of on an administrative side, but making sure that there's resources available because keeping up a farming is not cheap, it is costly. You still got to pay people for labor to take care of it. Then you got to make sure that they're tending to the farm on a daily basis. So if you are a farmer, you would know these type of stuff. So the work is really critical. Then we're going to be facing more challenges as the cost of food are going up. I think people are, would not be able to afford. I just went by and pick up some donuts because I'm actually going to go visit some senior citizen pepper, $10 for a dozen of donut. Omg. I remember used to paying $3 and 50 cents for a. Now it is $10 for a dozen. So when you recognize the increase in food, you also have to know that people, if people are struggling or ready to get access, just imagine now. So I don't know how much time I have peppers. I'm going to go ahead and pause at this time. Yeah. So $3.50 cents for a dozen a donuts, you're dating yourself because I also remember back when you could get a Coke for granted it was like a eight 12 ounce coke for a quarter, and you could make a telephone call for 10 cents.

Pepper Roussel: The fact that we have so many folks who need, and from so many different angles, right? Whether it's an immigrant community where you want to be sure that you maintain the food culture that your people are accustomed to, or whether it's you, I just want to make sure that my family has enough to eat. Sounds very much like where Grant started from, and then Baton Rouge Green, just fighting the food poverty with throwing trees at it. I just have never heard anything so entertaining in my life. What I do want to know though is for those of you who are growing specifically Grant and Cyndi apparently lettuce is at a premium. Is there a way, can you give this food to pantries? How do you share it with folks? How does this work for you?

Cyndi Nguyen: I'll go ahead and start. I don't think we're growing enough because of lack of limited resources. I know that once upon a time in New Orleans, Drew Brees talked about doing like an a acro farming in the east. I was very supportive of that. I think that for the average citizen in district e farming was something that they were, didn't really embrace it for some reason. As when juries introduced that, I thought it would be grace on that way. We could have more the nutritional food and then we could support many of our food pantry. But in the larger skim it was this community didn't embrace that as well as I was extremely disappointed. I think there's a lot of. Misunderstanding around it and how people are eating today and the different job opportunity that it comes with it. And but going back to the farming in the east we are working, like I said, with the C D C to really expand that. So in that way we can eventually I know that they're supporting restaurants, local restaurants already, that making sure like they have access to those cultural herbs that they need. Especially like the Asian restaurants uptown. We want to make sure, like we share our culture with other areas as well.

Grant Aucoin: We've been eating constant salads and I contact the way that I do it is really grassroots. I just let everyone on Facebook, who's my friend, know we've got tons of lettuce. We've given away almost seven gallons now of it. And that's with us eating constant salads. And this is just my one yard. Imagine if everyone in my neighborhood was growing food like this, like we wouldn't need to go to the store. And I saw someone ask about regulations with the chickens, you can have three if you have under an acre. And if you have over an acre, there's no limit. And you have to have the coop, I think 10 or 15 feet away from your property line. That's the only, and no roosters in the city. So Baton Rouge green as y'all are throwing BR trees at situations of hunger. Help us understand who qualifies for these trees? Is it just a tree giveaway? How do you get to a place that you're actually planting trees for folks? Tell us more.

Robert Seemann: So the we have two counter programs that overlap significantly, and ultimately they'll probably be combined into one. We have City of Citrus and share the fruit. So City of Citrus was started as an open source citrus program where folks would agree to be Citrus Shepherds and they would provide private or semi-public land that has some kind of public access. And we would help them establish and maintain citrus trees with the idea that they were growing fruit for the public. And the only stipulation we had was the fruit had to be shared. And we did not dictate how people could share. Everyone knows how to share. We learned that as small children. So we just helped people get things up and running and were there as a resource. And then we saw a lot of attrition to some of our citrus shepherds. Just like a lot of community gardens it all depends on who's involved. People graduate from high school, people move, people die. It just, it wasn't constant. We had a lot of success with a pick event. And the pick event is where we, if you own citrus trees on your private property, but maybe you don't want to commit to being a citrus shepherd or maybe you don't have any property or you don't own citrus trees, but you still want to get involved with the program. We would host a pick event where we would line up volunteers with people who had citrus trees on their property and go harvest fruit. Once or twice a year and bring that to the food bank during holiday season when a lot of this interest is becoming right. And so we saw some successes there where we had a dialed in network to distribute food. We saw some successes with how much people wanted to help out, but we really needed to staff this full-time. And so then we coordinated with the feds, with the US Forest Service who was extremely motivated in finding ways to use trees to address social needs and disparity and access to fresh food as a social need in this town. So then we came up with Share the Fruit, taking a lot of the stuff we had learned through City of Citrus. We had been greedily eyeing all the successes that Baton Roots was having and just seeing just the, all the really amazing programming that was going on. At the, with baton roots. And we wanted to just really just see what we could do with trees to help out with that. And then that's when we started to talk to them about incorporating, we had already established a citrus orchard at Hollowell Park. And then we wanted to try to work trees into what they're doing with their remote gardening sites at housing authority sites. And then, so for those sites, that's open to the neighborhood. It's not just folks who live in those facilities. If you're just adjacent to the housing authority sites, if you're in the neighborhood, you want to participate, it's wide open where and we don't draw fences around anything we do. So the short, that's the really long answer. The short answer is it's wide open to everybody. And we really try not to dictate how people share because people just look what grant's doing. Like what Cyndi's doing, like people just figure it out on their own, got it. Giving you a bit of foreshadowing, I want to start with Grant and talk about these 30 fruit trees that he's got on his property and then shift to Cyndi. Has, Cyndi had or used to work with kids and trees. And then that's going to segue us dovetail us into a very fun announcement.

Pepper Roussel: So Grant, tell us about these fruit trees you got going on.

Grant Aucoin: I've got, let me just flip you all around. I've got satsumas, I've got gummy bees, I've got tons of figs. Pomegranate. This one looks bad from the recent frost we had, but it'll be fine. Mayhaw persimmon. Paul peach, plum, pear, nectarine, apple I think that's may be about it, but 14 blueberry bushes and I'm not even close to using my space. Like I have so much space available still. So this can be done in a really small space. A lot of them, I got really cheaply on a Black Friday sale from an online vendor, and so I was able to bring in like 20 fruit trees for under $200 doing that. And now that I have the fruit trees, a lot of these take really well to cuttings. That means if you take a stick and cut it off the tree and stick it in the dirt, you have a new genetic a hundred percent copy of that tree. And with figs, mulberries, pomegranates especially, it's almost a hundred percent success rate. Another thing I do is I said I provide a lot of trees. It's really easy to do because I just take a bunch of cuttings all the time as I'm regularly pruning my trees anyway, and I stick them in the dirt. And then I've got tons of free plants available to give to anyone who wants to do this.

Pepper Roussel: And so Cyndi remember back way back when we met, you were working with kids and there was a whole food forest that they would go into. Tell, can you tell us about the reactions of the children and what sorts of things you were growing?

Cyndi Nguyen: Yeah, so it, it all started with kids not struggling to eat fruit on those that came to the center. And so I've always believed that and I have six kids on my own. And so it's, you got to let them see it and let them be part of it and growing it and building up their trust. So we started the fruit forest and where kids that comes to the after school, the summer program, they, we were actually tasked up to take care of it. And it was funny because we had seven fig trees, so FIG was in during my time but it wasn't in the kids in the program time, they're like, oh, I heard my grandmother talk about it. And so we were able to actually let them see it and taste it and I think Kidsy say they have this very unique taste where they're not, not like us, where we just ate everything that was available. You. You explore how they will embrace the fruit, and so the kids really enjoy it. Of course we have the CU clot, which is very common in the Asian community. I don't know if you guys use, if you guys are familiar with CU Crot, but we use it for like sore throat. And so we soak it in marinated in salt like a lemonade type. And so when you have a sore throat, you drink that and it will help. And we try to have a lot of the Asian fruit because we have Asian kids in there, so that way they can relate to. But of course the common fruit that we have is citrus, oranges peaches. We did have an avocado tree because we saw that there was a grown number of Hispanic residents in our community. And just trying, I guess using the fruit area as a way of bringing communities together. We always come together for the common good of Food. And so it was very positive. The kids really enjoy it. Those are like my good days. But I have been exploring where we revisit the fruit area for the community. We see now there's family or struggling more and we sit on seven acres of land pepper in the east. And so we definitely have bku of land that we could explore those opportunity.

Pepper Roussel: I had no idea that there were other uses for com pots other than just popping up in your face. Is, that's the only way I'm connecting with them.

SK Groll: Hi folks. So I just dropped a link in the chat where you can register for a tree planting event that we are doing with Baton Rouge Green and our fantastic partners at the Housing Authority. And like Preston's talking about, we've been working all together to bring agro forestry and fruit trees to the community gardens that are at right now, 11 different sites. Eight of those are getting fruit trees and citrus orchards this year. So we planted the first one yesterday. We brought 10 trees to Montesano Community Garden. And it was a really wonderful time. And on the 21st we'll be celebrating the final 10 of this hundred by. Gathering all at Clarksdale. So you can join us. Register at that link on Gift Pulse to get reminders for it, but we'll have other community groups out there. Preston and Chris and Robert will be given a little tutorial on how to take care of your citrus trees and showing us as we plant them. And then the housing authority and some other folks will be out there as well, just celebrating this big milestone of planting 100 trees in just about a month.

Pepper Roussel: Yay. All right. I want to get to a question that started this full conversation, which is around permaculture and what does that do for the soil? And I'm going to leave that open to anyone but bef but while you're considering that there is a question in the chats considering the number of brown fields in East Baton Rouge, is it safe to have some of these consumables in the area? Is it safe to eat what you grow in the East Baton Rouge?

Robert Seemann: I just shouted out to Manny. Just speaking for our sites, we soil test each of our sites and run that through an EPA certified lab before we plant, make sure. And we haven't had an issue yet. We did it out of what we, to be an abundance of caution when we started City Citrus, and we're mainly looking for elevated levels of zinc and lead. And we haven't seen anything that, that really is off the charts that would prohibit us from planting. And there's also another issue is there's not a lot of clear cut standards from the FDA or EPA, that specifically addresses urban farming and safe soil levels for various elements in the soil. We put things together basically looking at. What EPA recommends for playgrounds and what kids can be exposed to for the dirt and soil they dig and play in. And then we look at some standards that, that they have for farming and just do the best we can.

Grant Aucoin: My wood chips that I talked about came for free to my yard from a program called Chip Drop. So you can sign up online for free and landscaping companies or utilities, whatever that cuts down trees, they end up with a lot of mulch and that typically goes to the dump where it becomes more carbon dioxide and methane and waste, but they'll also deliver it to your house for free. And so you can get these chips and they help to hold water. So I haven't watered these trees in the front in a year, and they're all doing just fine. I also have these swes and berms set up to help capture water. But the wood chips, as they degrade, they build up the soil, they store carbon, they catch rain water, and they actually, it's been shown they sequester harmful metals and things like that as they degrade. And so it's just a win-win building the soil.

Pepper Roussel: Manny, did you want to come off mute and follow up?

Manny Patole: No thanks Robert for that. I know it's been a long time since we've spoken together. But yeah, no it's just a general question when we're talking about this and in urban environments that have high rates of impermeable surfaces, especially when you're close to a chemical petrochemical plant as well. How those things can infiltrate the soil, the water and the air quality as well, and how that can impact urban agriculture for many folks. So I'm glad that you have some testing and environmental quality review tasks in place before you do your work. We just don't, we haven't, we've looked and we just haven't come across any specific standards, so we've just tried to do the best we can and that's at the state level. I know different states some states do have standards for urban community farms. We don't. Yeah, and if anyone has anything they can point us to or direct us to, we're completely open to taking a look at it. Also it's not, nothing we're doing is a closed book. And we're writing the book as we go. We're definitely open to any suggestions to improve what we're doing and improve the product that we deliver to. I call 'em clients with their stakeholders, but we view everyone as a client and we, customer service is a huge thing for us. So we're always trying to deliver quality products, not janky products, not unhealthy products. We're always trying to deliver quality products to our customers.

Pepper Roussel: Fantastic. So there's a question in the chat that I don't know that we're going to be able to get an answer to, but it is, have some of these sustainability ideas been incorporated into home buyer education program? Now I don't do home buyer education programming, but I have been a full advocate of rip out your lawn for a very long time now. So do y'all know, is there are you spreading the good news of permaculture and fruit foresting in the backyard? Understand?

Grant Aucoin: I don't know of any official programs. Like I said, I've got my YouTube to try to help anyone who's interested. I just, I feel like lawns if you know the history of them, they were a long time ago in India and the Knight of the Crusades to come back and made 'em popular and they don't do anything. It's just to show that I have so much money, I don't need to grow food. Guess what? You can easily grow food. My main concern with chemicals and stuff in my yard, it would be like persistent herbicides and pesticides. But since I've lived here for six years now and haven't sprayed any of that stuff myself, I'm confident enough that it's now outta the system. So for my part,

Pepper Roussel: where do you start? What do you plant? If you are starting off and you are maybe not ripping out the hole lawn, but maybe just the perimeter, any suggestions?

Grant Aucoin: I would suggest looking up permaculture guilds, G U I L D S. And you can find a fruit tree and there's tons of suggestions online, but you pick a fruit tree that you really and you're going to eat all the fruit from, and then you find someone who's already planted it and they've planted shrubs around it or roots, all of it. And they'll tell you what is in their guild. And so that's a helpful starting point, maybe if you don't have any clue. And you said plant guild? Yeah, a permaculture guild.If you play games a guild, a group of people. But it's a group of plants that basically will work together to support each other. And there's lots of examples online of that. And if you have any questions, feel free to contact me. I'd love to help you.

Pepper Roussel: So there are a couple of us who are dropping some information about Permaculture Guild in the chat. To go out in the notes question for Baton Rouge Green. What, when y'all install your plants, are you doing like this full ecosystem, or are you, how are you working with the actual planting and the growing we're really just dovetailing into what's already out there.

Robert Seemann: Any sense of permaculture comes because there's already socially and culturally something going on at a site that we work with. And we're not using at, with the exceptional one site, we're not necessarily using traditional forest trees as part of the food growing or the agro forestry. We do have one site. Where we're using pine trees in an effort to make those citrus trees more cold party and durable during the winter. Once that's, that is a wide open experiment. And results may vary. What we really look for to encourage sustainability is culturally what's going on at the site and does our programming, are we squeezing our programming in there for the sake of doing something there? Or are we squeezing our programming in there because there's a need for it and, or maybe it's complimenting something that's already going on. It's making the, it's enriching the experience or it's enriching the products being produced and we tend to go towards the ladder. I do think as we move farther down this road, we can absolutely get into looking at using. More trees to address kind of the complete ecosystem. But we're really looking at the social ecosystem right now. And then from just a really practical standpoint, there's only so much space that we're allowed to play with at any given time. We don't own the property. We tend to work only on public land. We have to respect the needs and uses of those landowners, or we have to really work around their concerns and fears. It's a very slow process as Mitchell and SK and Casey can attest to. We try to take baby steps and then build on successes. And right now not much, but in the future we're definitely open to that. But we're really focused on showing a viable product, a proof of concept and showing people that they don't. They don't need to be scared of trees. We got 'em used to the community garden plots and the community garden boxes and they decided that was okay. And then we talked them into letting us put some fruit trees out there and they were skeptical about that. And now, that's now that's okay. We'll build on those successes and then maybe talk into some forest trees. Ooh for my part, oh, sorry. For my part, I used what's already on site. Like I said, I hadn't sprayed in six years and I'm a gold Louisiana native plant habitat. Cause over 80 native plants have showed up on their own.

Grant Aucoin: I planted maybe five of them and the rest of them just appeared. So my guilds look like what I have. I have tons of garlic, chives, and comfy and daylily, so I plant those in my guild. Skull cap is a medicinal plant that comes up everywhere at the native. This dollar weed is an edible native that comes up everywhere and most people think it's just an awful weed, but it's actually like a super food. I've got just countless, but I would recommend for your shrub layer, blueberries or native. Like I said, I've got 14 of 'em. They do really well here. Bay lilies, every part of the plant's edible. The flowers are delicious on salads, like they're super sweet lettuce, basically. There's just everything that you need is here already. I've got sweet potatoes on my that cover the, this in the summer. I've got watermelon and squash that also covered these berms in the summer. So use what you have. It doesn't have to be expensive.

SK Groll: Yeah, I just wanted to say we talked about like home buying and like homeowner education as part of this, but I also think part of this is organizing with HOAs and other neighborhood associations to make sure that. Whatever requirements they have for homeowners are friendly towards killing your lawn. Because a lot of the times the barrier for folks who do own private property and want to do something like this is being worried about those restrictions that are going to happen in an HOA. And then also on the local level, being able to generate some tax incentives and some other momentum around these green infrastructure initiatives. Because if that momentum picks up, then there is a lot that you can do and there's a ton of benefits in terms of reducing extreme heat days in urban environments. In increasing storm water management and retention of the water and detention that water in different places there's a ton of benefits and it's a real equity. Here in Baton Rouge in terms of places where there's been a ton of gray infrastructure, which just blanketed the city. And we're going to see that increasing in disparity. As climate change impacts increase. So I think just as much as we can locally, getting some momentum around green infrastructure in a lot of creative ways.

Pepper Roussel: Fantastic. So there was an early question that was around the weather. What happens to these trees during hurricane season when there are wild shifts like the freeze that happen this past year? Tell us what you do.

Grant Aucoin: So we had four days at like 20-ish degrees, which is pretty crazy here. And this is, this food forest here is only one year old and I lost one tree Pakistan mulberry cause it's only hardy to 20. All of my other trees did just fine as far as hurricane. I haven't had one hit it yet, but they blow in the wind. It's very windy right now where I am. And if you don't stake up your trees, they will strengthen themselves. You don't want to let them get too heavy with fruit. You need to thin your fruit. That's a danger for limb breakage. You have the diversity cause of the weather and cause of the issues that, that are starting to occur in our climate and are going to only get worse, I promise. You want to have the diversity cause if something fails, you have a lot of backups. This is a a really good question about trees. Basically they're just acceptable to damage, just like any other trees during the hurricane, they're outside and they're at the mercy of the weather. During the hurricane, if you have a tree that you like you can stake it to give it some more support.

Preston Brooks: You can lean things on it, maybe wrap it up if it's small enough for you to wrap up and protect it. With larger trees that says acceptable as to any other types of, but you can also protect your training them when they're young to have a nice strong, solid structure to where they can sustain some type of some wind damage and the fruit hanging on there and it's not falling off, but they're just as susceptible as to as any of the tree to hurricane damage because they're outside.

Pepper Roussel: That makes a lot of sense to me. So when you say you'd stake the tree that's for a small tree and you. Literally put a steak in the ground and wrap it to the tree so that it doesn't fall over. If you have a tree that won't stand right and you want to keep it, it's going to have to be steak, whether it is big or small.

Preston Brooks: But if you have a tree in a hurricane that you know is extremely flimsy and it doesn't have a solid foundation, maybe you can put a, you can put three steaks around it, maybe in the triangle formation, just to keep it posted up each the direction as the wind blows. But yeah, in the tree that you think that, that's going to fall, you probably want to try to stake it. And if it's worth saving the tree, it's worth saving the tree.

Pepper Roussel: Fantastic. Yeah. So when I was saying don't stake trees, I meant like when there's not a hurricane, so that they can strengthen when there's not an issue like I have on this newest Asian persimmon. I've got a little stake here that's supporting it because it's blowing around in the wind a lot and it's not really strong enough yet.

Preston Brooks: Younger trees, you want to get them off the stake as soon as possible. You want them to strengthen the bottom of the tree and the wooded part. You want to strengthen that as soon as possible so they can support themselves. But I was just only advocating for staking If your tree isn't strong enough to hold up during the storm, I think that's about the owner protection. You can really give it, if it's a small tree, you can of wrap it up and it'll just go side to side on its own. But larger trees that may live need a little bit.

Grant Aucoin: more help. And something that helps, oh, sorry. No. Something that's helped, something that helps on my site is I, this is an urban orchard. It's a food forest, but my trees don't get taller than me. And I prune them to where the branches go out. They have a nice structure, shorter stout trees with things thick. Trunks aren't going to be as susceptible to getting knocked over. And then you can plant more diversity and more quantity.

Pepper Roussel: I love this idea in the chat from Manny about the clipping and garden parties which sounds like something that would be fun for anybody who's interested in moving into growing at home. Thank you, Danny for showing us pictures of your backyard farm. These are amazing and last question that I can see is I don't know, but leaving it open to anyone who's got the answer. Are there any suggestions? Do y'all have any suggestions or any nonprofits that would be engaging in order to help citizens change those homeowner association guidelines or bylaws? Sometimes they're not that, sometimes they are too, not that willing.

Robert Seemann: Just get engaged with your HOA. I don't think an, I think an HOA is going to be more inclined to listen to a member than they would a nonprofit telling them how they should, a nonprofit with folks who don't live in that neighborhood, telling them how to manage their neighborhood. I think that change appropriately should come within. And then, and just talk to your neighbors too. That's something we don't do anymore. But I can assure you that Grant has had several conversations with his neighbors once he started modifying his yard. And I'm sure he is, had several opportunities to educate them on the good he is doing. I'm sure he is. Made a lot of new friends supplying them with all the goodies that he grows. Talk to your neighbors, that's something we don't do anymore. That was my advice. Yeah,

Grant Aucoin: Mo most of my neighbors have been really supportive of what I do. I try to make it look beautiful as well as functional. That, I think that goes a long way. As far as dealing with an HOA, I'm just, I'm so glad. I don't, I'm not in one cause it, it just makes it really hard to do this kind of stuff. And I don't really know how to deal with that problem. But I plant strawberries on my sidewalk and blueberries along the sidewalk. I want the neighbors to be involved. I want them to be interested and to benefit from it.

Robert Seemann: We talked a lot about hurricane protection, but I think actually freeze protection and knowing when to put that protection out and knowing when to take it off is probably more important sometimes.

Chris Cooper: We're mainly planting a lot of citrus trees and a lot of south Louisiana loves planting citrus trees. And it's a big investment. I was just at the nursery the other day and at a lot of local nurseries there, they're getting close to $50 a pop. And the stock you're getting is getting smaller and smaller because the demand is so high. And so it's not a small investment by any means, especially if you're throwing mulch or manure, anything like that on the on the plant. And like the biggest issue that we have with citrus trees is that cold that comes through. And even if you have a maybe a mature sastry or something that's been in the ground for three years, When we don't have a winter, and then we have three days of toy degree weather, like we, we just sustained during around Christmas. That's something that's going to shock everything. I was very upset with losing something that's called like snow peace things that we know love the cold, but if they're not able to acclimate to the cold before fairly extreme weather comes through that can be quite shocking to them. And then you can lose them all altogether. So at citrus trees it's, again, this is an investment and this is a time investment and sometimes it's even more of a resource investment. If you're, you have something that you can get up to three or five years old, that's peak and that's something that you can start to take those training wheels off a little bit. And so when we have those young trees and I've been watching my neighbor who we, we did a citrus giveaway a few years back, and he just babied that tree. He was able to get one, he babied that tree and he's been the best citrus shepherd. And so every time the freeze would come. And Satsumas, I think once they can get established, they can go down to 15 degrees, 17 degrees, something like that. But when they're young anything below 30 degrees is pretty scary for them. And so just, he would come in and put four stakes wide around the tree and then come over with the tarp. And you always want to make sure that tarp or that bi queen or a sheet would help or something like that. But a sheet is not going to, there's going to be a lot of air passing through something like a sheet. And so you really want something that's plasticized or heavy canvas that with wax, something like that. And you want that to. Directly to the ground because there's going to be a lot of heat knitting from the ground. And then you also don't want cold air going through the bottom of that whole kind of staking system that you have there. And that's one way you can do it. Also you could put on a lot of people here in South Louisiana, especially New Orleans, will put on just Christmas lights. The big old C nine ones that give off a lot of heat not the l e d ones, because those don't give off a lot of heat. And so wrapping it with C nine s, you can compare, you can add those two things together. And that's really absolute, that's the Cadillac of citrus per production. What we did just most recently is we have 30 trees out at HA Park and that's the one that we manage pretty highly. But we don't have that many Christmas lights. We don't have that much extension cord. We don't have that many time and resources. And so we what we did was use the malts that we had there, all those wood chips, and we just mounted all those wood chips as far up the trunk as we possibly could. And a lot of citrus trees, I'm sorry, a lot of fruit trees here in South Louisiana and across the board, camelias. Other things like that are grafted. So for the first four to six, maybe eight inches you're going to see one trunk and then, or type of bark, and then it's going to change into a different tree, actually a different species of tree. And so that's where you're going to get your fruit. So you want to go well above that graph line to protect that trunk. And then any, once the we get above freezing, you want to leave that on as, as long as we're above free below freezing. And then once we're above freezing, that sun starts to come off, that's when you want to take that mulch off. That's when you want to take the tarps off. Because especially with something like a tarp, if we have freezing temperatures and then all of a sudden it goes up to 65, 75 here maybe even 85 degrees you just created a bit of an oven for the tree. So you want to be able to take that stuff off as, as quickly as you can after we get above freezing. And that's of every day. It's as much as you want to invest your time in and your resources in. If you can invest heavily those first three to five years I think you'll be really happy with the results.

Robert Seemann: Yeah. So just that every, I can't emphasize that enough. You pull those tarps off during the daytime unless it's just like in the low twenties because the. The trees are not going to like that, and it actually prohibits them from warming back up in the sunlight. So just remember that we used to give off heat and the ground gives off heat and anything you can do at night to keep the wind off those trees and let 'em develop a little thermal blanket around them. But take that off during the day and let 'em warm up in the sun. It's un, unless it's 17 degrees outside and they'll be much happier. Thank you. Chris, sorry for putting you on the spot.

Pepper Roussel: And Chris, just to, to clarify, when you say young trees we're talking under three years old or is that just the first year?

Chris Cooper: Yeah, typically there, there's no. They're living things and each environment is each micro environment from yard to yard from the house to back of the house is all, it can be very different. And three, I would say three to five years is usually where you want to be, where you're thinking about babying your trees if they do need some

sort of cold protection. And so there, there's no strong line on that. You could say three years for a lot of those things. It, maybe it's in a sunny location, the south side of your house. Maybe it's three years, but maybe if it's in the front of your house where maybe there's a little bit of a wind tunnel happening, a along your drive or something like that. Maybe that's five years. It can be a little confusing and you're just doing the best you can.

Grant Aucoin: I have a young Satsuma here and what I actually used to protect it during the twenties was just a lawn chair bag. And so I just put it over the top and then cinched it closed with this and it didn't have any dieback at all from that. So I was really impressed with that.

Pepper Roussel: Brilliant Grant if you can put your email address in the chat for folks who seem to have questions popping up and I don't see any more in the chat. So gardening burns around 3000 calories an hour. 300 calories an hour. Ah-ha. Oh, so then I can eat more if I farm. Aha.

Casey Phillips: Alright. I think that today is just a good example. You just really never know what you're going to learn on a one rouge front. And I really appreciate everyone in the chat for speakers today. And hopefully everyone found this informative that this isn't your power source. Hopefully you'll be inspired to put your hands in the earth and reconnect to the source, right? I like that Grant led today off with he was he was motivated out of fear, right? Which a lot of people were and did something about it and now has found like love, right? Love and something and spreading that love with all these people and stuff. So granted, really it was great to finally connect with you and I impressed him and was great to finally meet you. And thank you everybody for our speakers today. Pepper you put together a great panel.

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