Sugar Roots Farm Outdoor Classroom

Located in Lower Algiers (about 8 miles down river from the French Quarter), Sugar Roots Farm is a space where schoolchildren in the New Orleans area can interact with farm animals, learn about natural cycles, and understand where food comes from. Like most of coastal Louisiana’s bottomland hardwood forests and semi-swamps, it is also a site with water management challenges. The students decided to site the educational pavilion near the entrance to transforms 2,500 sq. ft. of previously unusable land that flooded regularly into a defined welcome area for visitors and educational programs.

Connecting people of all ages to our food systems and local ecologies is at the core of what Sugar Roots Farm does each day on their site. As the farm expands its programming and activities it was clear that they needed an outdoor teaching space that allows for expanded educational events on site, reflected the farm’s mission, and alleviated the water challenges on site.

The built classroom space is a raised concrete slab with integrated drainage that anchors a large steel and wooden roof structure. The roof provides a large shaded area for classes and directs water to a cistern and a bioswale to alleviate the localized flooding. The structure includes wash stations for the farm’s produce and large counters for teaching canning and cooking classes. The space is bracketed by a storage area for kitchen equipment and supplies and an educational wall with fixed signage and a chalkboard for class activities. 

Students consulted with several landscape and water management experts to design a retention pond planted with hundreds of native plants that can be appreciated from the boardwalk. The pond’s depth reaches the natural water table so that a thriving ecosystem can exist year-round and plants were distributed in zones to ensure they get the proper amounts of water. A drainage system diverts water from the front of the project into the pond underneath the slab and rain water from the roof is collected in a 500 gallon tank that is used to wash produce.

Technical Description

A 2,500 SQ FT outdoor classroom used as a teaching tool, a space for production, and a community gathering space.



Merrie Afseth, Brianna Baldwin, Le’Bryant Bell, Zach Braaten, Kelsie Donovan, Kareem Elsandouby, Ellen Feringa, Nick George, Ella Jacobs, Sam Lindley, Connor Little, Mandii Malhotra, Valentina Mancera, Johnathan Michka, Sofia Perrotta Mensi, Malina Pickard, James Poche, Natalie Rendleman, Katie Schultz, Karan Sharma, Bruno Soria, Giuliana Vaccarino Gearty, Yao Zhang
Collaborating Organisations
Sugar Roots Farm
Project Context
Project Type
Care / Education | Community / Culture | Agriculture / Foresting / Gardening
Construction Methods/Techniques