New Orleans is still rebuilding after Hurricane Katrina, and in many areas it’s a real hands-on affair. The Backyard Gardeners Network, a nonprofit organization founded by Lower 9th Ward resident Jenga Mwendo, planted the Guerrilla Garden as a way to connect past and present through growing produce and creating a relaxing haven. Last weekend, people gathered to start building a living shade structure [pictured above] to expand the garden and provide shelter from the sun for garden workers. The Recirculating Farms Coalition is helping the Backyard Gardeners Network build the structure and raise funds to complete the project. They are just $700 short of their target, with three days left. RFC Executive Director Marianne Cufone said, “We are so excited about creating this unique feature at the Guerrilla Garden. Recirculating farming, using constantly recycled water without soil as the basis for growing, is becoming very popular across the U.S and especially here in New Orleans, because you can grow fresh food and other plants almost anywhere, on rocky or paved lots, even rooftops; this will be a real asset to the neighborhood.” At right, volunteers help set up a hydroponics unit. Jenga Mwendo is also excited about the collaboration: “Our vision for the Guerrilla Garden is for it to be a vibrant green space where our community can come together and share and learn from one another. It’s about community building, community ownership, eliminating blight, and improving food access by leaning on our own cultural traditions.” Interested in aquaponics? Read our interview with the Recirculating Farms Coalition’s Marianne Cufone to learn more about this environmentally friendly gardening and farming system.