Hollygrove Market & Farm, a unique hub for fresh local food and urban farming in New Orleans, is shutting down. The market's last official day was Monday, and its future remains uncertain.
Hollygrove general manager Paul Baricos said the nonprofit organization is essentially out of money and can no longer honor its lease agreement for its home base on Olive Street.
“I’m hoping there’s a next step,” Baricos said. “It’s a very important program and there are people out there with resources who may want to see it continue.”
The news comes as a blow to a network of small local producers that used Hollygrove as a retail outlet in New Orleans.
Hollygrove was formed in 2008, combining an urban farm with a market for small-scale local growers and an education center. It was a pioneer in the wave of modern urban farming that took root here after Hurricane Katrina, and it served as a resource for residents, farmers and organizations interested in local food systems.
Its retail component grew into an indoor farmers market for daily shopping. The organization also assembled weekly boxes of produce, in the manner of community-supported agriculture programs, and it supplied restaurants, which frequently printed the name Hollygrove on their menus as a byword for local sourcing.
The group held classes between its farm rows and on its pavilions, and convened projects focused on environmental sustainability and nutrition.
“Our goal when we started 10 years ago was to get fresh fruit and produce into these under-served neighborhoods and be part of the economic development after Katrina,” Baricos said. “We’re a nonprofit, we don’t have any investors. If someone out there can partner with us or pick it up and run with it themselves, that would be the best situation from here.”
The organization saw trouble looming as sales began declining and it was unable to make up the shortfall. Baricos said sales have been down 20 to 30 percent from a year ago and the group was not able to meet its expenses.
“We ran into problems, some of them self inflicted to be sure, but we did our best to keep it going,” Baricos said. “Ideally, someone else will take up the mantle.”
Hollygrove will have a clearance sale on Tuesday at 8301 Olive St.
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