As a mentor farmer at the Hollygrove Market and Farm and the Grow Dat Youth Farm in New Orleans, Macon Fry helps provide urban agriculture training and jobs for students. For this, we honored him as a runner-up in our first Citizen Entrepreneur Contest.
How did you become environmentally conscious?
Much of my early concern for the environment was simply aesthetic. I grew up in a small town suburb of Washington, D.C. and saw the area fill in around me with little planning. When I started gardening seriously in the '80s, I began to really connect how human activities, especially pollution, impact our soil, water supply, and even the food we eat.
What would surprise us about your work?
You guys strike me as hard to surprise, but the most remarkable thing about my work as a farmer and educator is that the incredible joy of planting seed and producing food is actually small compared with the enjoyment of working with the great people I meet on the farm and through mentorship work in sustainable agriculture.
How have you worked with Global Green?
Honestly, although I have heard of Global Green's work in the New Orleans community, my focus is so tight on hands-on work in the field that I was totally surprised and flattered upon learning that I was nominated for one of your awards. The prize that has been awarded me will go a long way in developing a much-needed demonstration vermiculture project in the city.
Who is your hero?
I would say that two people who have really inspired me are Max Elliot, the founder of Urban Roots Youth Farm in Austin, Texas, and Marilyn Yank of Little Sparrow Farm and the Ama Center in New Orleans. I have followed in Max footsteps as a community garden coordinator, food justice proponent, small farmer, and youth farm educator. Each step on the way he has given great advice. Marilyn Yank has lead by example, showing how strong relationships, hard work, and love are foundations of a sustainable way of living.
What has been a recent work success or accomplishment?
Last spring I had two new interns enroll with me at Hollygrove Farm, seeking to learn how to become sustainable market gardeners. They changed their schedules to accommodate long hours in the field, researched best-practice questions that I had in their spare time, and finally ran the farm this summer. They are now farming their own vacant lot garden in the city. Their success is an accomplishment the three of us share.
If you had the power to make one global and green change, what would it be?
Maybe I am a small thinker, but I am just happy to have an opportunity to think about my own footprint and, by example, to get other folks to do the same.