I am still collating the massive amount of information accumulated from the project in new and interesting ways. For now, please enjoy the following slideshow:

Growing Collards photos by Li Pallas, Heidi Hickman, Ken Nahan, and Sound Mixed by Laine Kaplan-Levenson


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Food Security Conference

Last weekend began with the illustrious Pam Broom of Cafe Reconcile, Sun Harvest Kitchen Garden, and most recently the Women AND Agriculture Network, brought a walking tour over from the Food Security Conference. The lovely Alissa Denny of Holygrove also brought a group over as well. Members of the both groups toured Gris Gris Lab and spent time contributing stories and drawings to the exhibit.

The following photos are taken by the magnificent Heidi Hickman:

Heidi, Gia, and I then took the project over to the Food Security Conference on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday collecting more sound bites and photos. All additional photos by Heidi Hickman:

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

last saturday food justice pot luck

Every Saturday during the Food Justice Course at Gris Gris Lab we have a pot luck. Last Saturday we decided to eat in the Collards Room and Tina showed us all how to make spring rolls. Pictures of our decadence below:

and here are the sprouts as pictured last saturday:

one of the students copies Gia’s recipe:

The students had spent half their time installing hanging gardens in the back for micro greens:

excellent use of vertical space!!!!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment


Mandisa didn’t grow up calling them collards, they were always collard greens. Additionally mustard greens, turnip greens, and kale were also called greens. She never really thought of it growing up as something particularly healthy to eat or as soul food, but she thinks they are. “I just think of it as food that is good” she says.

Her dad is from New Orleans and her mom is from South Carolina. Her mom cooked greens differently, with turkey or vegetarian, not with pork. Her mother is Gullah which is a culture steeped in tradition in the low country of South Carolina. Her mother made greens with cornbread. Consequently, Mandisa says she can’t eat greens without cornbread: crumbling up the corn on top and eating it with her hands. If the restaurant is out of cornbread, she won’t eat her greens. If you offer her greens at your house, she may bring her own cornbread.

She says greens can’t be too soupy or too dry. That they should be smokey, with turkey wings or turkey feet, but that they can be vegetarian so long as you get that smoke from somewhere. She said:

“it’s kind of like being cool. Not everyone can be cool. Not everyone can make greens. You have to cut them a certain way. You have to roll up the greens and slice them like a pinwheel.”

I tell her I often tear mine. She says that’s an alright method too and either way it’s okay though, “if they don’t make good greens I’ll still eat at their house.”

Thanks Mandisa for your awesome input!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

a recipe from Gia Hamilton

I managed to snag a few minutes and a recipe from Gris Gris Mama Gia Hamilton. Truth is, I get the pleasure of seeing her more than most these days somewhere in between all her mythical adventures on other celestial bodies. This woman is truly magical. She likes her collards with coconut rice:

“Wash and cut collards, chop into fine pieces, add to pan with coconut oil and chopped red onions and sauté. Boil brown rice/ Add cooked rice to pan of coconut oil, shredded coconut, peppercorn, pinch of salt, then add collards and rice together. Enjoy! ~”

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Nailah Ricco

Nailah began by writing down two recipes from her childhood, one vegetarian and one meatarian. She has lived in three places in central city new orleans since arriving from NYC. She has been cooking since she was 10 years old and considers herself a professional “gourmet grade” chef.

For her academic pursuits she decided between culinary arts or law school, but decided on law school and somewhat regrets it. She came to law largely through her human rights organizing.

Nailah says cooking is something she took for granted, that she takes many of the things she enjoys for granted. We mused about how the most important things in life are hard to give priority to.

She says, “food can be a great catalyst for social justice” that food is “socially moving, so deep” and that cooking can be one of the “most socially progressive things you can do.”

I told her she could display her recipe anywhere. Right in the center of the fireplace if she wants. She took me up on that offer: “I’m so center of attention,” she says, “I think it’s the manhattan in me.”

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Opening Night!

Special thanks to Gia Hamilton and Heidi Hickman for their help installing and support. major thanks to everyone who showed up and made a contribution! You’re beautiful!

Come back soon and share a story!!! xoxo!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment