Community garden relaunches in North Lake Charles

Updated: Mar. 28, 2021 at 11:40 AM CDT
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LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - After the hurricanes closed down the last avenue for fresh produce in North Lake Charles, the SWLA Center for Health Services decided to relaunch their community garden on Prater Street.

Launched last Juneteenth, but destroyed by the hurricanes, they were able to re-establish the community garden with a ribbon cutting ceremony Saturday.

“This is a blessing for us, to be able to have the community garden here, which costs absolutely nothing,” says Dianna Ross, director of community affairs for the SWLA Center for Health Services. “We did all of the building, and my team did the planting. And so, it’s here because we know that we’re in a food desert here, and people have a need for fresh food and fresh vegetables.”

Ross hopes the fresh produce will decrease health issues they see on a regular basis.

“High blood pressure and diabetes really come from poor eating habits. So what do you do? You put something in your community that would help establish better eating habits for the community, and that’s what the community garden is.”

Community programs manager, Alisa Stevens, says those issues were amplified in the community after the hurricanes.

“Having comorbidities and having food insecurities, we decided that developing this garden would be a first step to helping alleviate that problem.”

It’s an issue that even resident Ron Sledge recognizes exists in the community.

“Everybody runs quick to get processed foods and stuff like that, which is very harmful for the consumption of the human body. So, having all the fresh fruits and vegetables on the plate, it helps out with the growth of people.”

However Ross says, this isn’t a solution to the larger issue in the community.

“Over the long haul, we need more than a community garden to address the issues we have in North Lake Charles. This community garden is our way, SWLA Center for Health Services way, of kicking it off.”

The SWLA Center for Health Services hopes the community eventually maintains and utilizes the garden which currently has strawberries, collard greens, peppers, herbs and more being grown - all of which are free.

They say the harvest will also be used for the center’s nutritional program.

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