Meet the Modern Farmer: Asia-Vinae Palmer
Photograph by Rush Jagoe
Grow Dat Youth Farm New Orleans, Louisiana
Asia-Vinae Palmer didn’t apply for a fellowship at the seven-acre youth farm in New Orleans’ City Park out of some deep love of the soil. “Honestly, I just needed a job,” she says. “I told them I had a cactus and that it hadn’t died yet.” But Palmer’s prior teaching experience was enough to land her a gig as head crew leader for Grow Dat, a nonprofit that mentors teens and young adults as they cultivate crops, which are sold through a CSA and at farmers markets.
Palmer, who goes by “Preach” and leads workshops on social justice and personal development, says she looks for ways to connect farming with her charges’ sometimes turbulent lives: “I tell them to be gentle with themselves, just like they’re gentle with the tomatoes.”
It’s a message the 25-year-old has brought home to the Crescent City’s Seventh Ward, where the side yard of her double-shotgun house now teems with tomatoes, eggplants, and potatoes. “The kids on my block have been coming around,” she says. “They’re waiting for me after work, ready to water the plants.”