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.
Friday's Blogs from the Bog!
Sign "ninjas" cleaning up clutter; NYC doctor positive for Ebola; Ferguson grand jury decision nears; and more national and international news for Friday, October 24, 2014.
We can safely assume incumbent Chief K.P. Gibson isn’t too worried about this challenger.
Nationally, Republicans must gain six seats to win Senate control. The most competitive races, many in states where Obama lost in 2012, remain too close to call.
The Baton Rouge Republican has repeatedly battled a perception within his own party that he perhaps wasn't the best choice to carry the GOP banner.
Hot style for fans (and beyond)
Four bedroom Acadian or three bedroom traditional
Prestigious honor annually recognizes a single attorney for excellence in public interest/pro bono work.
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
"I have never seen anyone who worked harder for our people than Sen. Mary Landrieu, so I would like to share a synopsis of a few of the many things she has done to help Louisiana."
Even if Jimmy Graham's production dips while the star tight end recovers from a shoulder injury, it looks like Drew Brees won't have much trouble finding other targets.
A former campaign manager for Senate candidate Rob Maness is striking at the Republican contender's tea party support, saying Maness only sought to appeal to conservative organizations because he needed money for his campaign.
Ninety-two percent of public school teachers were rated either effective or highly effective in a report the state issued marking the second year of a new statewide evaluation process.
School board members Mark Babineaux, Hunter Beasley and Tehmi Chassion can vote to fire Cooper — because we all know that’s exactly what they’ll do.
District 2 school board candidate Simon Mahan is hoping to unseat first-term incumbent and former Carencro Mayor Tommy Angelle in the Nov. 4 election.
District Attorney Mike Harson is showing his desperation by falsely attributing quotes to his opponent and blocking journalists from his social media.
Three bedroom Acadian or a two bedroom town home
Ready to geaux in purple and gold
The governor is traveling the country laying the groundwork for a possible 2016 presidential campaign, but his approval ratings at home hover well below 50 percent.
State District Judge Bob Downing extended the order and delayed a planned Wednesday hearing about a permanent injunction while negotiations continue between Attorney General Buddy Caldwell and the waste disposal site operator.
New Louisiana higher education commissioner Joseph Rallo will be paid more than his predecessor.
The recently established Downtown Lafayette Restaurant & Bar Association will host a special viewing of the upcoming New Orleans Saints taking on the Carolina Panthers in the open air of Parc Sans Souci on Thursday, Oct. 30.
Belief in a national outbreak of the Ebola zombie virus is becoming more of a threat every day, and The Hayride — Louisiana’s one true bastion for unrelentingly conservative political commentaries — thought it wise to share a certain special someone's “important message” with readers Tuesday on what to do when, not if, it comes.
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
Elijah McGuire and Alonzo Harris each had four rushing touchdowns, and Louisiana-Lafayette rolled to 419 yards on the ground in a 55-40 victory over Arkansas State on Tuesday night.
Bill and Hillary Clinton are the validators-in-chief for Democrats struggling through a bleak campaign season in states where President Barack Obama is deeply unpopular.
JPMorgan Chase is giving $1 million to Louisiana's community and technical colleges, to help with workforce training efforts to match students to available jobs.
President Barack Obama is turning to black radio listeners to plead for midterm votes, a targeted approach to drum up Democratic support at a time when many candidates don't want him around in person.
Law firm unveils newly renovated 200-year-old building.
UL grad named web developer at BBR Creative