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Paul Arceneaux, community gardener
Metairie Community Garden
When Paul Arceneaux evacuated New Orleans before Hurricane Katrina, he left behind 300 basil plants in the community garden he tends, on a plot of publicly-owned land in Metairie. He returned to three feet of trash and a “post-apocalyptic” scene. Most of his herbs – including edible marigold flowers, rosemary, and garlic chives – went into pestos that he sold at the farmers’ market, and he also supplied plants to local restaurants. Arceneaux took over the pesto business from a friend, who had asked him to fill in for her while she was out of town. “I started off as a shopper, and look what happened to me!” he says. Now, he is focused on evaluating the health of the soil and clearing the beds of debris – then, he hopes, he can begin growing again.