Gardens to bloom in Freetown, McComb

by Walter Pierce

With an assist from LCG, neighborhood coteries in historic neighborhoods have broken ground on communities gardensĀ - and you can help.

Residents and students in UL's SOUL Camp prepare the Freetown-Port Rico community garden.

Residents in two historic neighborhoods adjacent to Downtown Lafayette are set to be the stewards of community gardens with an assist from Lafayette Consolidated Government.

LCG's Department of Planning, Zoning and Codes worked with representatives of the McComb-Veazey Neighborhood Coterie and the Freetown Neighborhood Coteries for the projects, helping the groups secure grant funding to begin the community gardens. The former also worked through the Great Southwest Louisiana Black Chamber of Commerce for its community garden at Immaculate Heart of Mary Church via a $5,000 Fiskars Project Orange Thumb Grant.

"It was indeed the Chamber's pleasure to have worked alongside the McComb-Veazey Coterie members to receive this wonderful grant," says Black Chamber President Courtney Reynolds. "This community garden is a first for the area and it is so exciting. The Fiskars grant has really made this a reality for us all. The garden falls right into the revitalization plans we have for our neighborhood. This is all part of bringing the neighbors together and having them join in on the planting."

Ground will be broken on the McComb-Veazey community garden on Aug. 16 and is a public event that will include a poboy sale to help fund the start-up cost. Local filmmaker Stephen Meaux will be on hand to document the endeavor.

Ground was broken this week on the community garden in Freetown-Port Rico. Located in the green space between Garfield Street and the railroad tracks, the garden is just the first phase of a larger project, Garfield Linear Park, that will one day include walking paths, benches and landscaping. Residents along with students from UL Lafayette's SOUL Camp, an orientation program for incoming UL students; it's short for Service, Outreach, Unity & Leadership.

A $1,500 grant through the Freetown Commission is helping get the project started, but a crowd-funding effort is under way online at civicside in an effort to generate an additional $1,500. Organizers plan a "garden party" this fall.

According to Emily Neustrom, LCG's community garden planner, "each garden is unique and seen as a neighborhood catalyst project to enhance food access, beautification and community pride."

To donate to the Freetown-Port Rico community garden, click here.