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Pop-Up produce stand takes home the prize at Pitch NOLA

Lots of Progress (2)

Rosamar Torres, program manager for the Sankofa Community Development Corporation, delivers the winning pitch at Lots of Progress. (Photo: Summer Suleiman)

Last night at Propeller’s Pitch NOLA: Lots of Progress, a pop-up produce stand for an empty lot in the Lower 9th Ward took home the top prize and audience favorite award for a total of $5,634. The live pitch competition was designed to generate ideas for innovative use of vacant lots for economic development and commercial projects.

Rosamar Torres, program manager for the Sankofa Community Development Corporation, a health-focused community group, delivered the winning pitch to a full house.

“I’m here representing the residents of the Lower 9th that don’t have the choice to a healthy meal right now,” Torres said. "With our stand, they will have a choice, and that’s why I’m here tonight.”

She said the award will help implement the final piece needed to finance the project. The startup cost is $8,700, and a grant will cover the remaining amount.

A panel of three judges awarded the $5,000 top prize. Audience members at Propeller, a nonprofit organization devoted to social innovation, donated $634 for the audience favorite and voted for the winner.

The judges awarded a second prize of $2,000 to Little Dawgz in the Hood, a plan for a dog park to be run by the Villalobos Rescue Center for dogs, an Upper 9th Ward organization that has been featured on Animal Planet.

The Sankofa produce stand will be located at 5029 St. Claude Ave., and will offer locally sold fruits and vegetables along with classes on health, fresh food preparation, urban farming and gardening for storm water management.

Andrea Chen, executive director of Propeller, said she was excited about all of the semi-finalists of the challenge.

“We hope that all of our participants will continue to pursue their ideas. We have a lot of vacant land, and we believe community members are the solution,” Chen said.

The other semi-finalists who pitched included: Nannyboo Snowballs, a pop-up food stand; and the Putt Parade, a plan for transportable miniature golf courses.

Propeller hosted the event along with the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority. Entergy sponsored the pitch prizes.

Judges on the panel included Charles Rice, president of Entergy New Orleans, Tara Hernandez, president of JCH Development, and Sean Meenan, founder of Café Habana and Habana Outpost.

Winners of the challenge also will receive business coaching through Propeller and options to lease or buy property.

This post originally was published on the #IDEAinsider blog.

Summer Suleiman is a health writer and blogger who writes about her experience living healthy (or trying to) in a city best known for its fabulous (unhealthy) food and debauchery. You can read about her journey saying no to po’boys and Sazeracs, and yes to kale and juicing, at www.HealthySummer.me or on Twitter @summersuleiman.