David Young: Farmer and Beekeeper in New Orlean’s 9th Ward

David Young, a retired police chief from Indiana, first came to New Orleans in 2010 for a visit. Responding to what he called, “A calling from God,” he stayed. Drawn to the desolate landscape of the Ninth Ward, still heavily damaged from hurricane Katrina, Young started his first garden in one of the vacant abandoned lots there. Now that garden hosts bees, goats, chickens, and a koi pond, as well as helping to feed the neighborhood. One lot let to another, and now Young has over 30 gardens and orchards and 60 beehives. Sensing a need in a community where the closest grocery store is miles away, Young distributes the food for free or at very low cost.

The New Orleans Times Picayune reported: With the help of other volunteers and several hives of honeybees, plus a little cash and lots of ingenuity, Young cleans up blighted vacant lots and grows food on them to give away to people who need it. “I bought this (lot) in a bank foreclosure,” Young said. He originally thought he would help the homeless either by employing or housing them, but his vision changed. He planted a little personal garden on the lot. “And I found out people need food,” Young said. “So I kept expanding.”

As all of his work is volunteer, Young has started a website, www.capstone118.org, to coordinate sales of the raw honey, or “adopting a hive,” to fund the gardens and other projects. This allows him to provide food for those in need, as well as train them to develop gardens of their own. Young was featured in a video by Rob Greenfield last year that gives an inspiring glimpse of all that can be accomplished by one man.