The Role of External Funding in the Development of Food Systems and Urban Agriculture in Post-Katrina New Orleans

Authors: Jeanne Firth*, London School of Economics, Yuki Kato, Georgetown University
Topics: Urban Geography, Hazards, Risks, and Disasters, Agricultural Geography
Keywords: urban agriculture, disaster, New Orleans, foodscape, funding, redevelopment
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/13/2018
Start / End Time: 3:20 PM / 5:00 PM
Room: Rampart, Sheraton, 5th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Privatization, dominance of ‘non-local’ rebuilding entities, and the growth of public private partnerships have been well documented in disaster contexts and in post-Katrina New Orleans (Burns & Thomas, 2015). These policies are understood to empower political-economic structures that thrive on investing in developmental projects that increase vulnerability to future disasters and exacerbate social inequalities. What has not been extensively examined is how such reshaping of opportunities in post-disaster cities affect nonprofit and non-government sectors. This presentation examines foodscape interventions and the rapid expansion of urban agricultural (UA) practices in post-Katrina New Orleans with a particular focus on the role that external funding opportunities played in shaping a unique UA scene. Based on archival data, fieldwork observations, and interviews with those investing in ‘good food’ (philanthropists, celebrity chefs and UA practitioners), we illustrate changes in types and scale of funding sources that helped start, sustain or expand various projects. We argue that external funding opportunities often helped shape the formal missions of projects to highlight food security, urban sustainability, and community redevelopment, though in practice the extent to which these missions aligned with praxis varied across projects. We also find that elite actors started new organizations and ran their own programming, rather than donating to existing institutions. Most projects that were successful in accessing funding or mobilizing their own resources were headed by newcomers to the city, though with some notable exceptions, which contributed to the distinct notion of foodways that were not often connected to the city’s historical, cultural practices.

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