Where did your tomato come from? Who grew that corn syrup that shows up on all of the nutrition labels? What, exactly, is some of this stuff? These are questions that so many people are asking. EarthShare Gardens is a local non-profit organization that is dedicated to enhancing the connection between people and their food. For some, this means just providing nutritious and home grown food to eat. For others, this connection is manifested in the form of their own plot in our community garden, where they till the soil, plant the seeds, mulch the rows and harvest the fruit. And, of course, pull the weeds.
EarthShare Gardens has been around since January 2002 and has thrived while using the processes of discussion and consensus-based decision making. The core group, composed primarily of members of the board of directors and its close affiliates, handles most of what goes on within the EarthShare Gardens organization — everything from fundraisers to class lessons about gardening or large volunteer days. Our farmer, whom we pay for part-time work but who puts in much more work than that, is a dedicated partner in crime. He has learned the ways of chemical-free growing, taught the board of directors about the beauty of old-school farming, and will always take the time to explain what he is doing (and why, if you are curious).
You may see our farm when you drive the stretch of Louisiana Avenue between Carmel Drive and Willow Street. We dug in our roots on Holy Rosary property, between the Family Dollar shopping center and Holy Family Apartments, across from the municipal golf course. Appropriately, the other half of the large property has mature pecan trees which already provide the neighborhood with local produce.
The anchor of our four acres is our Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Garden. A CSA is an alternative to the classic structure of farmers growing and selling at a local grocery store or farmers market that is used by most small diverse vegetable farms. First, the farmers determine the growing capacity of their land — how much broccoli, cauliflower and lettuce can their acreage support? How many families can they feed? The next step is to find the families that they will feed.
When you sign up, each party is given a guarantee: They will receive fresh, healthy produce every single week, barring a catastrophe. The farmer is guaranteed that if that catastrophe occurs, she will not be staring devastation in the face.
A family signs up to receive produce every week during the season, pays for their season in advance, and vows to weather the ups and downs of the season with the farmer, in sickness and in health, for richer and for poorer. When the rains come, drowning the fields, followed three months later by a healthy week of non-stop hard freeze, the CSA customers know what this means for their food. Since they paid in advance, the farmer is not facing devastation and bank liens, and since the responsibility is shared between all of the shareholders, the burden is not too much for any one person. EarthShare Gardens has a long waiting list for the CSA and unfortunately cannot accept any more people for our waiting list. We do, however, encourage area farmers to learn more about different CSA models to see if it might be right for them.
On the other end of the spectrum, there is a population often left by the wayside when we talk about healthy, chemical-free produce. Our Donation Garden is an area dedicated solely to food donation for food banks and diners. This garden is 100-percent volunteer-run, with various organizations coming to till, plant, maintain, and harvest. We are seeking a good fit with a civic, school or church group to adopt a weekly volunteer routine for this garden. Let us know if you are interested in a one-time or an on-going basis.
But, what if you are a causal gardener — someone who helped in the garden at grandmother’s house, dabbled in growing food when the kids were small, or has a yard so full of other gardens there is no more space for the vegetable plants? No fear, we have space for you, too. Our Community Garden Plots are available to these people — you can use our sun, rain, compost and other growing tools (included in the small seasonal price of the plot) and you get to hang out with other gardeners, sharing tips, tools, and conversations.
We aim to support and promote all of our local farms, orchards, U-pick areas, and ranches. One of the latest ways we have employed to get the word out in Acadiana, and put our money where our mouth is, is through the Harvest Moon Dinner. The year 2009 marked the second year that EarthShare Gardens used this major fundraiser to support and promote our neighborhood farms by buying all of our produce and most of our ingredients from food producers here in Acadiana — pork, veggies, rice, you name it. This is something that so many people believe in — making food accessible for everyone, empowering people to grow their own food, preserving our agricultural heritage, engaging in healthy nutrition. But it takes a community to support it — it doesn’t just happen on its own. When we begin to build our culture around food — beyond the local gumbo flavors and into the local produce flavors — we can begin to realize just how good homegrown is, for your taste buds, your neighbors, and our environment.
Louisiana's health department says it will seek law changes to stop billing sexual assault victims for exams and tests.
An investment group led by Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets will buy the Louisiana power company Cleco for $3.4 billion.
It wasn’t the historic slashes to higher ed funding or the ensuing tuition spikes that recently had LSU’s student body and faculty riled up in collective outrage.
"I feel it is appropriate to speak up when there are topics that are being bandied about with little or no factual data to back them."
Urgent Care clinics unprepared for Ebola; Nazis collected Social Security; Hawaii dodges a bullet and more national and international news for Monday, October 20, 2014.
Monday's Blogs from the Bog!
Will $400 be enough for the re-election campaign of LPSB's Hunter Beasley to overcome two years of holding our school system hostage and hurting the education of our children all because of a personal dislike of the superintendent?
Saints tight end Jimmy Graham said Friday he expects his playing status in Detroit to be decided by coach Sean Payton on Sunday, shortly before the game.
Two bedroom cottage in Lafayette or three bedroom traditional in Erath
Gulf Brew ready threads
Lawmakers have sidestepped a decision on whether they accept claims from Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration that the state closed last year's books with a nearly $179 million surplus.
Coming off the high of a fourth quarter comeback against Tampa Bay and a helpful bye week, linebacker Junior Galette sees a real turnaround coming for New Orleans' struggling defense.
Former President Bill Clinton, the Democratic Party's most popular surrogate this fall, is heading to Louisiana early next week for a campaign rally with U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu.
Time and again you hear people say DA Mike Harson is unbeatable because he's doled out political favors over the past 20 years. But a new lawsuit could end that speculation.
We welcome nominations from readers and leaders throughout the business community in Lafayette and the five surrounding parishes.
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
Ebola is kind of terrifying if you watch too much Fox News and CNN. Especially Fox, which makes everything look terrifying because, well, War on Christmas and Obama and all.
Local developer’s Lake Charles Gardens LLC purchases buildings and leases; land still owned by Dugas family.
One bedroom townhouse or two bedroom townhouse in Lafayette
Hit the barre for a good cause
Whatever district you are in, please do your research. Find out what the schools need in order to teach. Better yet, ask your child’s teacher. They know!
Get your groove on with two free concerts in Downtown Lafayette Friday, both at Parc Sans Souci.
After the season's signature win (so far), here are some helpful tips for Cajun Nation during the conference stretch.
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
Did the state close last year's books with a surplus or a deficit?
Practicing without limitations on Wednesday, running back Mark Ingram looked ready to return to a New Orleans offense that once again ranks among the NFL's best when the Saints play at Detroit on Sunday.
It’s been decided: Superintendents of Louisiana’s public school system will retain the controversial powers granted by Act 1 of the 2012 session.
Economist Loren Scott says Louisiana is in the midst of an industrial boom unlike any other in its history, with more than $100 billion in industrial projects either under construction or in the engineering and design phase.
Louisiana Treasurer John Kennedy has a bone to pick with the Jindal administration, which recently — surprise! — announced that the state ended the most recent budget year with a $178.5 million dollar surplus.
Where will we get french fries smothered in awesomeness now?