Garden on Mars, a project that converted four vacant lots into urban teaching gardens for the Lower 9th Ward community, took home first place and $5,000 Wednesday in a business pitch competition.
The Propeller Incubator’s PitchNOLA: Living Well competition matched against each other 10 semi-finalist companies offering entrepreneurial solutions to reduce or eliminate health disparities for at-risk or underserved residents in New Orleans. The event was presented by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana.
Second place winner Project Peaceful Warriors won $3,000. It teaches yoga and other strategies to help students and educators cope with trauma and stay focused and improve their performance in the classroom.
Third place and $2,000 went to High Level Hearing, a speech and hearing clinic based out of Harahan. It also earned an audience favorite award of $500. High Level Hearing plans to put its winnings toward a van to increase the reach of its mobile clinics, with the goal of serving 10,000 additional patients over the next six months.
The Garden on Mars teaching gardens provide local families with “kitchen boxes” to cut down on monthly grocery bills and increase access to fresh produce, while teaching them how to earn income growing and selling produce to restaurants, markets and florists. Garden on Mars project fresh produce buyers include Mariza, Dryades Public Market and the new Ace Hotel.