Last week, VEGGI staff members took a field trip to the west bank of New Orleans and met with Eric Bucich of Cafe Hope and Elvia Chauvin of Two Acre Farms. Eric showed us his farming operation which uses a similar sheet mulching technique that VEGGI is implementing on our farm site in New Orleans East. Seeing Eric’s farm plot look so well confirmed our beliefs about the benefits of this technique and we are eager to start implementing this in the next few weeks. Eric’s main passion is soil, and he definitely had some amazing compost on the site. We have just started composting on our farmsite with the help of some community members and hope to start reaping the benefits soon.
We then took a tour of Cafe Hope and learned about their mission. Cafe Hope is a restaurant that also serves as on-the-job training for at risk youth in every aspect of the restaurant business. We were able to meet chefs and several youth while they were finishing up lunch service. Definitely a place to check out for lunch someday soon.
Eric then led us to meet Elvia Chauvin, a self-employed handyman who is striving to be totally self-sustainable. Mr. Chauvin runs a farm almost entirely by himself, growing everything from oranges and grapefruit to lettuces and tomatoes. His Two Acre Farm produce can be found at Hollygrove Market and Farm.
What we trekked all the way to the West Bank for, however, was to learn about alternative fuel from vegetable oil. Mr. Chauvin has outfitted his farm with a system that converts vegetable oil to usable fuel for his trucks. Elvia works with several restaurants to help them get rid of their excess oil and recycles it. He can even use the vegetable oil to power a generator that can power his entire house in emergencies. We are hoping that we can adopt this technology as well, working with restaurants in our community and all over the city to become self-sustainable through the recycling of vegetable oil to power our delivery vehicle and our community farm.