Grow Dat Youth Farm nurtures a diverse group of young leaders through the meaningful work of growing food. Since inception in July of 2010, Grow Dat staff and youth in our programs have converted a 7-acre portion of the former North Golf Course in City Park into the largest urban farm in New Orleans and engages 50 young adults annual to farm 2.5 acres of land, harvesting around 20,000 pounds of food each year.
Johanna Gilligan & Mike Kantor
Johanna Gilligan began her food education over ten years ago at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. In 2006, she returned to New Orleans to work with the New Orleans Food and Farm Network and later launched her own consulting business, Clean Plate Projects, LLC. Her most visible work as a consultant was school food reform with middle-school youth at the non-profit Rethink, which generated national attention and was eventually profiled on HBO’s “Weight of the Nation.” In 2011, Johanna founded Grow Dat Youth Farm in collaboration with Tulane University. Since its inception, Grow Dat has become the largest farm in New Orleans, employing more than 150 young adults to grow over 40,000 lbs. of food. Johanna has received many awards for her work, including the City Park Presidential Award, Tulane University’s Young Alumnae Award, New Orleans CityBusiness’s Woman of the Year nomination, Gambit’s 40 under 40 award, and Tulane University’s Scott Cowen Service Award.
A native of New York’s Hudson Valley, Mike Kantor grew up with a single growing season and a pair of ice skates. Mike is a fundraiser, marketer, and anti-poverty and food justice advocate. At Grow Dat, he works to build a community of participants and investors, and champions a vision for youth leadership development grounded in the meaningful work of growing food. Prior to his present role, Mike worked as the Communications & Public Affairs Director for a regional food bank, as a project manager for an urban agriculture and youth education program, and as a political organizer on a national environmental justice campaign. He holds a master’s degree in Geography from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University, and a Bachelor of Arts from Vassar College.