For the gardener, Katrina volunteer opportunities sprout all over town _lowres

Photo by R. Stephanie Bruno -- The Guerrilla Garden in the Lower Ninth Ward needs volunteers to help with weeding, transplanting fruit trees, and planting herbs and vegetables.

Where will you be two weeks from today, and how do you plan to mark the occasion?

I’ve been reflecting on the most fulfilling way to spend the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and think back to the first anniversary, when two friends and I helped a Holy Cross resident finally clean out her house. It meant the world to her — and to those of us who helped.

This anniversary, the Katrina10 organization has made it easy to find a way to commemorate the event by soliciting nonprofits and community- based groups to submit lists of projects that volunteers can carry out. And for those among us who like to garden, it seems as though the choices are almost endless.

Every one of the participating neighborhoods offers a chance to dig in the dirt and plant something that will grow and afford others pleasure — and perhaps food — for years to come.

Eastern New Orleans

Choosing from 10 projects isn’t easy, but the standout for me is the Viet project in Village de l’Est. The attraction? The opportunity to plant 50 to 75 fruit trees as part of the “Fruit Forest Project.” The newly planted trees will add to 20 already on site, but if you can’t tolerate digging a 3-foot hole, you may want to consider another opportunity. 13425 Granville St., (504) 415-4905,

Lower 9th Ward/Holy Cross

Two projects caught my eye, so I am including them both. The first, sponsored by Common Ground Relief, offers volunteers the opportunity to help tend several thousand bottomland hardwoods that have been cultivated for coastal restoration. Common Ground was one of the first non-profits to set up a base in the Lower 9th Ward in the dark days immediately following Katrina. 1800 Deslonde St., (504) 442-2314,

The second Lower 9th Ward project is a full-scale makeover of the Guerilla Garden, one site of the Backyard Gardeners Network. Weeding, transplanting fruit trees and planting vegetables, flowers and herbs are some of the tasks available. Led by Jenga Mwendo, a tireless champion of the Lower Nine, the work will be exhausting but gratifying. 600 Charbonnet St. (504) 994-7795,

Florida/Desire (aka Upper 9th Ward)

When it comes to urban gardens, you can’t go wrong volunteering for Parkway Partners, the non-profit coordinating work at CRISP, an organic farm devoted to permaculture. The bulk of the work here is preparing beds for fall planting and generally sprucing up the farm.

The Green Project is joining in to help founder Zach George and the farm that has a devoted community surrounding it. 1330 France St., (504) 669-1502,

Treme/7th Ward

Working on the Edible Schoolyard at the new Phyllis Wheatley K-8 school serves two purposes: helping a new school get off the ground and ensuring the success of its farm-to-school program. Every garden chore you can think of is on the task list, including deadheading, pruning, fertilizing, mulching, transplanting and sowing. 2300 Dumaine St., (504) 252-1933,

Lake Area/Mid-City/Gentilly

If you’re concerned about the heat, perhaps helping maintain the plants in the Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden in City Park would be the right project for you. Much of the site is shaded by trees and there are plenty of benches for resting should you need to. Weeding, trimming and mulching are medium-energy garden chores that will make a world of difference to this oft-visited attraction. 1 Collins Diboll Circle, (504) 481-9433,

Central City

Gardening in a cemetery? Why not? In times past, families often planted roses on the graves of loved ones. No such work will be in included in the volunteer opportunity organized by Save our Cemeteries at the historic Lafayette Cemetery No. 2, but weeding and removing vegetation from tombs will help protect the cemetery for the future. Washington Avenue at South Saratoga Street, (504) 430-8543,


Volunteer opportunities at both Dwight D. Eisenhower and Algiers Technology Academy include general landscaping and gardening, among a host of school-maintenance related tasks. Dwight D. Eisenhower, 3700 Tall Pines Drive, (504) 421-1838, and Algiers Technology Academy, 6501 Berkley Drive, (504) 493-7037

For complete details on how to register as a volunteer, go to

R. Stephanie Bruno writes about homes and gardens. Contact her at