Community garden in the works in North Lake Charles

Community garden in the works in North Lake Charles
Volunteers are working to get the ground tilled for the Mill St. community garden in Lake Charles. (Source: KPLC)

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - Ground is being tilled on a big piece of property in North Lake Charles to bring the first of its kind community garden to the entire city.

It's called "The Genesis Project," and in order for it to be successful, organizers need lots of people willing to get their hands dirty.

On this plot of land at the corner of Mill and King Streets in Lake Charles, sits the Church of Christ and a lot of green space.

"Everything you see here, all the way to the street, and then to the other side of the property, as well," said music minister, Levert Blount.  "It's a magnificent plot and we plan on using all of it."

Blount is the music minister at this church and an avid gardener.

"If I'm not gardening, if I'm not in the dirt, I'm not content," he said.  "So I have to do what I'm passionate about."

That passion is equally matched by Pastor Courtney Jones, who came up with the idea of transforming this empty lot into a community garden: increasing access to healthy foods and teaching people to grow their own.

"If we can create a garden to where people can come and get fresh food consistently and have that food available to them, I believe they will make a wiser choice for their health," said Pastor Jones.

Mill St. Church of Christ sits on nearly two acres of land, making it a prime spot for a part of town that has not had easy access to fresh fruits and vegetables.

It is a problem John O'Donnell with Healthier Southwest Louisiana has seen too often in this area of Lake Charles. 

"Statistically, North Lake Charles is a food desert," said O'Donnell. "The people who live up here don't have easy access to healthy fruits and vegetables."

O'Donnell has seen some other community gardens fail, but believes this one is ripe to grow if people are willing to roll up their sleeves.

"We need people to come help maintain the garden, to participate in the garden, to come learn about the garden," he said.  "Just to come up here and get involved and get their hands in the dirt."

The Genesis Project just had a work day to get the top soil and soil conditioner down.  It is just the beginning of a start to a healthier community.

"It's just not a garden for the north side of Lake Charles or it's not just a garden for the church, but it's a garden for all of Lake Charles," said Pastor Jones.  
"There's no reason people should be hungry in Lake Charles and our community garden plans to remedy that," said Blount.

The first stage of the community garden is to get things growing that can picked on free pick days and sold at an affordable price like a farmer's market.  Then, they plan to add a children's area and a walking path.

Organizers are asking for donations of basic gardening tools, soil, farm equipment, and tax-deductible monetary donations to bring The Genesis Project to Lake Charles.  To connect with the project, click here or call Pastor Jones at 337-532-2729.  

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