Next City Article on the RiverLAnding by Matt Bevilacqua  




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Hey friends, please vote for our River Landing project. This summer we want to build a park in the LA River. Check out the video and vote with this link. Your votes help us get selected for the final round for $100k award! Please check out and share this link!
If you want to get more involved (and join us this summer) join the River Landing mailing list here. 
This project has been designed by a creative collective of landscape architects, architects and film makers including:
Alex Robinson, Jodie Bass, Margot Jacobs, Patrick Keegan, James Lively, Daveed Kapoor, Lars Jens, Kelly Majewski and Abigail Feldman.
REG. NO. F-309 

 I am officially a licensed landscape architect in the state of Louisiana.

My Eraser Collection 

I started collecting erasers when I was 9 years old and living in London. There are hundreds of them that I've kept stored away for years. Unpacking them....arranging them....touching them....the orderly little girl inside me gets lost in the joy of zip lining back to childhood.

NPR Radio Story on Growing Home 

Aired on January 10th, 2013 as part of WWNO's news radio show, All Things New Orleans.

"You see it in your neighborhood or on your way to work: an abandoned house or empty lot — a small piece of New Orleans which once belonged to someone, but now, is sagging or overgrown or both.

The New Orleans Redevelopment Authority’s Lot Next Door Program sells former Road Home properties to folks who, like the name says, live next door. But it’s NORA\'s lesser known program, Growing Home, which performs the nifty trick of helping buyers pay for their new, feral lots by transforming them into respectable, green spaces.

Growing Home has helped over 1000 New Orleans families make their neighborhoods more beautiful and eco-friendly; Eve Abrams watched the transformation in action."

LearnToLive Indonesia 2012 


4 villages (Sapa, Beringin, Likupang + Bunaken)

3 weeks

over 1000 patients cared for

2 babies born

1 street named in our honor

This summer a group of 22 people traveled around North Sulawesi in Indonesia setting up temporary health clinics in four villages. The group included doctors, nurses, public health care professionals, translators, educators, documentarians, an architect and a landscape architect. It was an amazing journey!
Mara Lepere-Schloop and I are currently the LearnToLive Sustainable Water Team. Our job was to get a basic understanding of each villages' water quality needs. We are planning to return next summer to build some low tech rain water collection systems to help diversify where and how they collect water. In at least two of the villages there are plans to design and install projects at the junior high schools
The Chicory Mix Project 

There is no city better positioned than New Orleans to pursue the endeavor of how to deal with the interim state of vacant urban land. Our successes here in New Orleans can inform shrinking cities and banks across the nation who, like us are facing astronomical costs associated with maintaining lawns on vacant and foreclosed properties. NORA is responsible for mowing and monitoring thousands of vacant lots and anticipates spending millions of dollars, based on the current maintenance regime that calls for mowing lots twice a month. We believe this holding pattern for vacant land is not a sustainable solution and hope to collaborate with NORA to ensure we remain at the forefront of innovation. 


In this spirit, we are happy to present “The Chicory Mix Project” proposal to establish a two year demonstration project seeking alternative low-maintenance plantings for vacant lots. Research on these plant communities is already being pioneered in the US by the renowned horticulturist, Dr. Peter Del Tredici, Senior Research Scientist of the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University, lecturer at the GSD, and author of “Wild Urban Plants of the Northeast” The other major component of the project involves educating the public about the benefit of these plants. That’s why we would like to focus on the use of Chicory, a purple flowering plant added New Orleans’ coffee to make it so unique. 


Drawings by Kate Smaby.

Trecidi Lecture on Wild Urban Plants 

In this slide lecture, Dr. Peter Del Tredici will explore the natural and cultural history of the plants that grow spontaneously in our cities. He will focus on the cosmopolitan nature of this flora and its ability to adapt to the stresses that dominate our urban ecosystems. In the speaker’s opinion, the spread of spontaneous vegetation in the modern world is a symptom of massive, on-going environmental degradation rather than its cause. Dr. Del Tredici articulates a forward-looking approach to the issue of spontaneous urban vegetation that focuses on rebuilding the ecological functionality rather than on the restoration of past ecosystems. His ideas on the subject have been published in his book, “Wild Urban Plants of the Northeast: A Field Guide” (2010, Cornell University Press).

From Blight to Beauty 

There is no on-line version of the article. So if you want to read it, you'll have to go purchase the magazine or use a magnifying glass.

Garden Design Magazine 

"Re-Greening New Orleans" written by Anne Raver.
Gotta love this quote regarding my work with Growing Home! "She has a brilliant landscape eye and this ability to let people express their creativity and individuality," Sathe says.

I like this part of the article too.

"The program has allowed Feldman to evolve the concepts she developed in her former work, as well as her training at Harvard's Graduate School of Design, where designers like Adriaan Geuze and Ken Smith were reimagining the revitalization of cities, and biologist Peter del Tredici challenged students to love plants, both native and exotic.

'I think about those discussions with Peter - what is natural and unnatural - now that I'm running this program,' says Feldman, who notes that, regardless of the sometimes outlandish designs residents come up with, transforming a blighted lot someone has lived next to for five years is empowering for the clients. She giggle about one of her favorite clients Mr. Bell. 'He put in palm trees, painted is sidewalk white, and told me, "This is gonna look like Cali, baby!"

The Times Picayune Front Cover Story  
The Grow Dat Youth Farm 

The Grow Dat Youth Farm is an urban agriculture facility planned for implementation in New Orlean’s City Park. The facility will combine agricultural and health training with internships for high-school-age students to work and learn on a productive, urban farm. The facility will support the cultivation of 2 acres of urban farmland and will provide classrooms, outdoor market/event spaces and a range of service components on the site.

This spring I led a group of architecture students at Tulane University through the design of a landscape master plan for the Grow Dat Youth Farm. The semester was run as a sister studio to the design/build group led by Professor Scott Bernhard in collaboration with the City Center. This project will break ground this summer!


The Definition of Bounce 

This summer... coming to a bookstore near you... 2000 copies of the "Definition of Bounce" published by GC Press out of New Orleans. Back in 2009 GK Darby invited me to attend my first bounce party as part of the entourage of renowned bounce artist 10th Ward Buck. I am thrilled that my photos from that night are spread throughout this amazing book that chronicles one of the most prominent bounce artists in the world.

dwell gives Growing Home a Shout Out 

The 5th Year Anniversary of hurricanes Katrina and Rita are now descending on the city of New Orleans. The media is seeping into town to have a look at what has and has not been done. We are pleased as pudding that dwell chose to post such an informative an optimistic slideshow on their website.

Designing with Rethink  

Restorative Justice is infiltrating schools all over the country! The premise is that when kids learn how to resolve conflicts through dialogue, they gain respect for each other creating a healthier, happier and safer learning environment. A think tank of kids, ranging from age 8 to 16, from all over New Orleans called, Rethinkers got together this summer to learn more about Restorative Justice, and now they want to bring it to their hometown! They realized that they need an appropriate place to learn how to disagree nonviolently. What better place than in the heart of a garden, in a Reconciliation Circle? Heavy Meadow had a terrific time working pro-bono with the Rethink kids to design a Reconciliation Circle. Here, at Langston Hughes Elementary School, nestled into a tropical jungle, with babbling water and wind chimes to soothe the senses will be a circle where the curtains can be pulled down on the sides of the pavilion (designed in collaboration with Thaddeus Zarse) ,  where a small group of kids, parents and teachers will find their way to solutions.

Check out this video! The Rethinkers will tell you all about Restorative Justice and plans for the Reconciliation Circle.

Growing Home Designs 

It's been really fun to see projects materializing. Patsy Story is rehabbing sick lizards in her garden. I turned around for two seconds and Val Woziniak had built a community garden. We've convinced Mr. Narcisse to wrap his yard in weed fabric and plant all ground covers. Nellie Perkins wants a rain garden. Aron Chang is working on a design / build hybrid shed / gazebo. We call it a shedzebo. 

The five year Katrina anniversary is coming up this August, and we are eager to show off the visible improvements taking place throughout New Orleans as a result of Growing Home. One lot at a time, neighbors are taking control of their properties, their streets and their neighborhoods. With almost 600 participants in the program, about 150 have gone to closing and are in some stage of completing their garden.

New Book 

"Visualizing Landscape Architecture" by Elke Mertens 

Published by Birkhäuser 2010

The book is an exploration of what role images play in the process of building landscapes. My work was featured alongside world-famous landscape architects and horticulturalists including, Piet Oudolf, the great experimenter with plants.

Heavy Meadow's work appears in three categories of the book.
1. working plans
2. finding ideas and forms in model making
3. representing the passage of time.



How Growing Home Works 


  • STEP 1
    Sign up for Growing Home when you place your 20% deposit and complete a purchase agreement on the Lot Next Door through NORA. You may request free demolition services from the Louisiana Land Trust (LLT) at this time as well.
  • STEP 2
    Meet the Growing Home director (me!) for an initial site consultation. At this time you will choose the landscape improvements you feel comfortable committing to build within 9 months.
  • STEP 3
    A customized “Growing Home Agreement” will be sent to you listing all of the improvements that you agree to make to the lot. Sign the agreement and return it to NORA.
  • STEP 4
    Complete the purchase of the property. The Growing Home credit will be deducted from the remaining balance of the property at the Act of Sale. Please remember that the LLT’s demolition services must be complete before title transfers.
  • STEP 5
    The clock starts ticking! You have nine months from the time you purchase the property to complete your garden. The Growing Home team will check in with you every 3 months to make sure you are on track. If you need additional help, we are here to support you!
  • STEP 6
    Once the garden is complete, you will be ready for a final site visit with the Growing Home director to verify that you completed the improvements required by your Growing Home Agreement.