2015 SUCCESSional Pocket Park

On October 24, 2015, ExxonMobil partnered with Baton Rouge Green to celebrate National Neighborwoods Month by installing a new pocket park designed to improve a blighted lot on Sorrel Avenue in North Baton Rouge. This SUCCESSional Pocket Park is designed to fit on abandoned, blighted properties and are basically “place holders’ that keep vacant lots visibly neat and easy to care for whether they are developed or not.

Over 30 volunteers from the community, the neighborhood, students from the Southern University Sustainability Coalition, LSU Landscape Architecture & Episcopal High students came together to install native trees and shrubs such as Chalk Maple, Swamp Red Maple, Ironwood, Oakleaf Hydrangea, Hairwan Muhly Grass, Dwarf Palmetto and Little Bluestem just to name a few.

The contrived layout and plant design strongly imply: “DON’T DUMP TIRES, DEBRIS, REFUSE, ETC. HERE!” The design relies on the form and habits of native successional plants & trees to create a PUBLIC space that can be enjoyed by the community.

These parks use successional ecology to complement successional land uses. We use middle to late successional species that establish readily, are durable, and have a desirable lifespan to growth rate ratio. Pocket park plants should not get so big that they dominate the site or create a hazard in hurricane/storm conditions. If system develops and programming calls for another use of the land the park occupies……the lot can easily be cleared to make way for the next system/land use. If the system remains continues as is the park plants and hardscape can easily be “refreshed” in a few decades to ensure its vigor.

Click the park map for a larger view.

2014 Love Your Block

On Saturday, October 18, volunteers for Baton Rouge Green expanded the urban orchard and public green space originally planted last spring in North Baton Rouge. The orchard is on the site of the old Hollywood Elementary School, now a new neighborhood called Urban Gardens that has been developed by UREC (Urban Restoration Enhancement Corporation), at 5655 Breckenridge Avenue.

Water Tupelo, Bald Cypress, Sweet Bay Magnolia, Little Gem Magnolia, Dahoon Holly, native hibiscus, apple, peach and pear trees will be added to the mix as well as blackberry, blueberry and native mulberry bushes. Over 25 trees were added at this years Neighborwoods event with volunteers from the community as well as from the neighborhood.

The objective was to encourage residents to make use of the diverse fresh produce offered at this orchard. The lack of easy access to grocery stress that offer fresh produce, contributes to obesity and diabetes as people opt for fast foods and pre-packaged snacks that are easy to locate. Through this project, we hope to encourage neighborhoods to begin planting fruit trees and shrubs that provide healthy snacks for the community.

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2013 Urban Orchard

Through this project, BRG hopes to encourage neighborhoods to begin planting click for plan view fruit trees and shrubs that provide healthy snacks and food for the community. These URBAN ORCHARDS are relatively low-maintenance alternatives to community gardens. Instead of a corner store Urban Gardens now has a corner orchard.

This NeighborWoods project was generously funded by ExxonMobil, and is a collaboration between BRG, The King’s Children Ministry, and Urban Restoration Enhancement Corp (UREC). The Urban Gardens Subdivision inhabits the old Hollywood Elementary site in N. Baton Rouge. Two house lots owned by the King’s Children Ministry are kindly held in perpetuity as communal green spaces. BRG was brought in by the developer– UREC – to design and install programming for the vacant lots.

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2011 Sunflower Project

In a pilot program, three vacant lots in Old South Baton Rouge were transformed with colorful sunflower plantings as a community revitalization tool implemented through a partnership with the Center for Planning Excellence (CPEX) and the East Baton Rouge Redevelopment Authority (RDA). Volunteers planted the three sites, and neighborhood groups were actively involved in the planting, maintenance and harvest.

2010 Rosewood Subdivision

Baton Rouge Green partnered with Habitat for Humanity to plant trees at newly constructed homes in this subdivision off of Burbank Drive. BRG was able to accommodate the wishes of the homeowners for specific trees such as oaks, magnolias, and fruit trees. BRG led the tree planting while dozens of volunteers installed flowerbeds, shrubs and laid sod. Often Habitat’s landscaping resources are quite limited; BRG provided 12 trees, mulch and shrubs as well as technical assistance for the landscaping project. Landscaping is vitally important to make a house begin to look and feel like a home; getting homeowners involved in fostering their immediate environment instills pride in homeownership that may carry over into the maintenance of their actual house. Twenty-five volunteers from the community as well as Habitat homeowners were trained on proper planting and maintenance methods.

Old South Baton Rouge, 2010

In August of 2010, Baton Rouge Green began attending community meetings of the South Civic Group at the Leo S. Butler Community Center. BRG found enthusiastic community activists from throughout Old South Baton Rouge and was challenged to select a concentrated area for planting from among the many possible sites. BRG coordinated with the Baranco-Clark YMCA, creating a planting plan for their newly installed playground area while arranging to use their site the staging area for the project. The YMCA received flowering, evergreen and fruit trees for its outdoor area—to be complimented by the installation of a community garden by other community organizations. BRG recruited 37 members of the LSU Black Student Union to plant the 35 total trees. The LSU students were trained on proper planting and mulching methods and then were shuttled throughout the immediate neighborhood to plant the remaining trees. Several residents on Peach Street received fruiting and flowering trees, a community garden received fruit trees, and a church and Head Start center were also planted. BRG worked with the Center for Planning Excellence and the South Garden Project to identify some of the planting locations.

Valley Park Project, 2009

Baton Rouge Green has long wanted to beautify the active corridor of Bawell Drive. BRG worked with Councilman Bourgeois’s office to find neighborhood contacts in the Valley Park community that helped plan a community meeting at the local Nairn Drive BREC Park. BRG also recruited participants by posting flyers on dozens of doors with community volunteers and inviting residents through a local church meeting. Twelve homeowners were recruited, and BRG planted 15 trees in their yards as well as in a large flowerbed that was built to beautify the Valley Park community sign at Bawell and Delta Streets. Twenty volunteers participated, including a dozen youths from the ‘Teens as Leaders’ program. BRG started the event with a lesson on proper planting techniques and then some neighborhood volunteers shared information on the rich history of the community with everyone before the trees were planted.

2008 Hooper Ridge

With help from Ronnie Edwards, Metro Councilwoman-elect of District 5 and executive director of Urban Restoration Enhancement Corporation (UREC), the final NeighborWoods planting of 2008 in Hooper Ridge subdivision took place on December 13th.  There were very few trees in this newer neighborhood of affordable homes, Baton Rouge Green volunteers and the neighborhood residents planted over 50 making an immediate and positive aesthetic and environmental impact on the area.

An empty lot at the neighborhood’s entrance was richly planted with a diverse selection of trees; this space will be a park-like place for residents to gather and recreate.

2005 Melrose East

Baton Rouge Green assisted Melrose East neighbors and businesses with a community greening project, helping guide dozens of volunteers in the planting of about 75 trees throughout 2005. The BR Green team worked with the Melrose East Community Development Corp and volunteers with The Home Depot Foundation to plant trees along previously bare areas of Harry Drive, Lobdell Avenue, Titian Avenue, and North Donmoor Avenue.