Undaunted by yesterday's major blaze next door, Acadiana Outreach is prepping for a garden overhaul this weekend and asking volunteers for a little sweat equity. The old Anderson Furniture Warehouse, in the 100 block of South Buchanan burned down to the slab. The vacant building, used by transients for shelter and often as a haven for prostitution and drug use, was being eyed by the city for condemnation and demolition. No lives were lost in the fire.

Out of the ashes, which have settled on the grounds of the New Leaf Gardens, Acadiana Outreach is looking to renew the overgrown garden and get ready for fall production. Rachel Adams, Life Enrichment Coordinator for Acadiana Outreach, says the center is repositioning the function of the garden. At first, Outreach clients worked three times a week in the garden, harvesting produce for their own personal use. Adams says the plan is to create a social enterprise, growing vegetables, herbs and flowers for sale. Some of the downtown restaurants have indicated an interest in purchasing herbs like rosemary, parsley, thyme and basil, says Adams. Vegetables and flowers will find a market at the upcoming downtown Hub City Farmers Market, slated for the fall.

In order to get ready for the fall growing season, New Leaf Garden needs some maintenance, Adams says, including heavy duty weeding, and rebuilding raised beds with landscaping timbers. Outreach clients will be working side by side with members of the community, including volunteers from EarthShare Gardens. Volunteers are requested to bring their own gardening gloves. Tools and refreshments will be supplied by Acadiana Outreach. Work hours are from 8 a.m. to 12.30 p.m. on Saturday, August 9 at the New Leaf Garden, 125 S. Buchanan St. in downtown. To sign up as a Workday volunteer, contact Adams at 237-7618 ext. 221 or (225) 485-2219 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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