Market Watch

Fields of Dreams: Last Organic Outpost Expands

The Last Organic Outpost has a tendency to fly under the radar.

They don't have a flashy booth at the local farmers markets, just a simple stand with a burlap tablecloth and a few bunches of fresh greens.  They don't sell most of their produce, in fact; the volunteers who work the gardens in the Fifth Ward keep the majority of what's grown there.  But with news that The Last Organic Outpost will soon acquire additional parcels of land off Emile Street, in which to expand their growing organic and urban agriculture empire, they won't remain unnoticed for much longer.

The farms themselves, as mentioned, are tended exclusively by volunteers.  Begun by founder Joe Nelson Icet in 1999 as a simple garden in his backyard, the Outpost eventually expanded to abandoned lots in the lower Fifth Ward.  Icet became committed to urban agriculture and sustainability, bringing in people to work the expanding plots and local experts such as Nancy Sorenson and Pat Greer, who began teaching cooking classes using foods grown in the gardens.

Today, Icet and his volunteers are hoping to create a "Fifth Ward farm belt" from the existing parcels of land they farm and the newest lots that they're hoping to acquire.  Their current land is located along Emile Street, separated by Hare Street.  The new parcels are directly across Emile, along Gunter Street.

It would make for a compact, highly useful area unlike anything else in the area, which is mostly littered with abandoned lots and heavy trash.  If Icet has his way, one day the entire area would become a community garden, growing food and beautifying the city while bringing people together in the way that only hard work can do.

In the meantime, Last Organic Outpost is busy concentrating on the new plots they've just planted at the Buck Street expansion next to the original Emile Street Farm, giving workshops on urban agriculture and holding dinners and farm parties where the farm-to-table movement is showcased in its purest form.

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Katharine Shilcutt