Johanna Gilligan has worked in the field of food justice for over a decade, currently as the founding director of Grow Dat Youth Farm in New Orleans. Now the largest farm in the city, it’s a place where young adults enhance their social, emotional, and ecological intelligence through shared work growing food. Gilligan’s work reimagines the role young adults can play in transforming our food system.
Gilligan finds collaborative ways to build community-led food projects that address the systemic inequity of our food system. She has worked with schools, residents, and community-based organizations to increase food access and education, supporting approaches including local markets, school garden models, and oral history projects designed and led by young adults. Her work on school food reform, led by middle school youth, generated national attention for its innovative approach and hard-hitting success, profiled on HBO’s “Weight of the Nation.”
As a Loeb Fellow, Gilligan will explore how land-based education can transform our existing educational approach into a more experiential learning model that enhances the relationship young adults have to land and to one another. This exploration will connect ideas of public land use, education, climate change, social justice, and community resiliency.