If you live in the big cities of Louisiana, like Baton Rouge or New Orleans, you might not realize just how rural much of Louisiana actually is. And how important agriculture is to the state’s economy: it’s the state’s 5th largest sector behind oil, natural gas, commercial fishing and chemicals.
A lot of research around agriculture – and it’s sister discipline, horticulture – goes on right here in Baton Rouge, where we also have some micro organic farms in the middle of the city!
Heather Kirk Ballard is Assistant Professor of Consumer Horticulture in the School of Plant, Environmental, and Soil Sciences at Louisiana State University’s AgCenter. The Ag Center has stations in all 64 parishes around Louisiana and works directly with the agriculture and horticulture industries to bring the latest in cutting edge research from LSU out into the field.
In addition to her research and extension program, Heather is the host of the AgCenter’s Get It Growing program, which is a user-friendly guide to growing for the average person, and a member of the Louisiana Super Plants Program. Her extensive research focuses on consumer’s home garden needs, the effect of plants on the environment, our health, the economy and the community.
But Heather isn’t just a researcher. She spent several years working in the commercial sector, most recently at General Electric and EcoLab, monitoring and maintaining water quality. And before that she was a high school teacher.
Allison Guidroz is co-owner of Fullness Organic Farm, a small organic farm right here in Baton Rouge off Nicholson Drive near Gardere.
Allison is a Baton Rouge native, who fell in love with growing food while in college at LSU. She worked in community gardens, took an organic gardening horticulture course and started a business putting in custom organic raised beds.
After graduating, Allison and her husband, Grant, did a year of service through AmeriCorps with Slow Food Baton Rouge and continued work with community gardens, installed school gardens and hosted local food events. In 2015, they started Fullness Farms, with the goal of growing the best food possible for their friends and family.
Allison has since gone to complete a master’s degree in horticulture and the small organic farm the couple started for themselves has turned into a – pardon the pun – growing business.
And check out more fascinating conversation about Baton Rouge’s unique culture of agriculture: farming oysters.