Current Legal and Other Challenges in Sustainable Urban Agriculture

Urban agriculture has become a meaningful part of our culture in recent years, with gardens growing on rooftops, side lots, indoors and other innovate spaces, offering fresh local products, food and health related events and more. However, various barriers to long-term sustainability for city farms still exist. Local, state and federal laws as well proximity and unique conditions of urban living create challenges for farms and farmers. This panel will explore several of the most significant obstacles for urban farming in New Orleans and beyond: space, soil, misconceptions and regulation.

  • Pepper Bowen, Founding Director of Culinaria Center for Food Law, Policy, and Culture pepper.png
    Shawn “Pepper” Bowen is the Founding Director of Culinaria Center for Food Law, Policy, and Culture. She is also co-chair of the New Orleans Food Policy Advisory Committee and a Steering Committee member of Regional Sustainability Committee. Prior to becoming an attorney, Pepper worked in every phase of software development, most recently as a project manager for multi-million dollar patient care projects for a New Orleans healthcare system. She has also served on boards in both private and public institutions; facilitated Development efforts for local schools and political campaigns; and coordinated events.Pepper holds a BS in Computer Information Systems from Tulane University; an MS in Computer Information Technology with a concentration in eCommerce; and a JD from Loyola University School of Law in New Orleans with certificates in both Environmental and International Laws. Her writings focus on remediation of invasive species for coastal protection, food systems, and environmental impacts on food. Her practice is predominately food business creation, filings, contracts, and trademarks.
  • Cooper Hurst, Rancher               009.JPG                Hunt a Hill Cattle Company is the culmination of a long-held belief that best practice beef production and being good stewards of the land must be symbiotic. Several years ago, in our continuing effort to improve our land resources and break the cycle of high inputs, we began a more intensive grazing system. Stock densities were increased, cattle were moved more frequently, then pastures were allowed a long rest and recovery. We grew more grass and started down the road of improving soil health. With a focus on soil health, the following principles were learned: Minimize tillage, Keep the soil covered, Living roots year-round, Forage diversity, Integrate livestock providing animal impact, and We grow grass and graze 365 days a year. We no-till drill multi species cover crops when our summer perennials go dormant and graze every acre. Our soil life, organic matter, water retention and holding capacity, forage growth and diversity have increased drastically. These never-ending efforts are leading us to achieve our long-term goal: “A sustainable system that allows year-round grazing which provides proper nutrition for all livestock at the lowest possible cost.”
  • Marianne Cufone, Executive Director of the Recirculating Farms Coalitionmarianne cufone
    Marianne Cufone is an environmental attorney, and long time healthy, affordable food advocate. She is also a professional chef, trained by the Natural Gourmet Institute, a leading facility on health supportive culinary arts and theory. Marianne comes from a long line of farmers and fishermen and is both herself. Applying her personal and family interests to her work – she has been involved with natural resources management, focused on oceans, fisheries, seafood and agriculture for the past 15 years. Marianne directed the fish and oceans program at Food and Water Watch (2007-2011), managed the Gulf, South Atlantic and Caribbean fisheries program for the Center for Marine Conservation (1999-2003), runs Environment Matters, a consulting firm that provides legal, policy and communications support to non-profit organizations (2003-present) on environmental issues and founded Green Justice Legal, a non-profit public interest firm focused on protecting the natural and human environment. She also maintains positions on advisory committees for local, state and the federal government and various other non-profits and businesses.Marianne currently heads an environmental policy clinical class at University of Loyola New Orleans School of Law, and has taught law and various college courses and given many guest lectures at assorted academic institutions. She appears in print, television, radio, and other media, is published in various magazines and professional works and testified before U.S. Congress. Marianne is a member of: the Florida Bar; the United States District Court, Middle District of Florida; the Louisiana Bar; the United States District Court, Eastern and Middle Districts of Louisiana; the U.S. Supreme Court; the American Bar Association, Section of Environment, Energy and Resources; and the American Fisheries Society.
  • David Young, Farmer and Founder of Capstone, a small non profit that has taken previously blighted or vacant lots in the Lower Ninth Ward and developed them into productive gardens and orchards. Located in part of a food desert, Capstone grows and provides food at no cost to those who need it. It also assists others in starting their own gardens or allow others to garden on our lots as we have space available. (Information from
  • Loyola Law Students (moderators)