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Community gardens sprouting up across Shreveport

(KSLA)
Published: Feb. 4, 2022 at 8:31 PM CST
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SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) - Community gardens are becoming a common sight in Shreveport. Several have popped up over the last few years.

It’s all to help people in the community have easy access to healthy food. St. Rest Baptist Church of Shreveport started their garden in January 2020.

“We were discussing ways to reach out into the community to connect better,” Cynthia Casson, youth director at St. Rest Baptist Church said. “Right at the beginning of 2020 is when we came out and started putting everything together. Who would have known right around the corner was the coronavirus pandemic?”

Casson says the garden is a stepping off point to help their congregation and their surrounding community.

“Our goal is to improve the overall health of the community not just spiritually with the church, but also physically, mentally. Our plan is to design events and programs that deal with health, better eating, the whole gambit for the community as well as out church family. But there’s more than just the garden. It is a central component, but it brings people together,” she said.

Casson says she has been able to meet more neighbors since the church putting in the community garden. Children also want to stop by and help.

“It’s a win-win,” she said. “It increases the sociability in the community. There’s times when people are afraid to talk to one another. This garden helps with the outreach. This is just the beginning. It brings people together because we need the cooperation in order to sustain it. As we work to sustain the garden, we are sustaining relationships, building relationships as well.”

Casson says they plan events and programs around the garden as well.

Over on Jewella Avenue, Morning Star Baptist Church started its community garden last summer. Pastor Theron Jackson says it’s already proven useful; people used some of the vegetables grown in their Thanksgiving meals last year.

“We saw greens come up and other vegetables and I got text messages and calls from people on our street asking if it was ok for them to go over and get some of the greens,” Jackson said. “I thought that was really a full circle moment where you see if come to fruition.”

Morning Star Baptist Church partnered with Louisiana Urban Gardening Initiative, a nonprofit organization, to put together its community garden.

“One of the main things I notice when going into communities to put up these gardens is building those relationships,” said Cenerica Smith, executive director of the Louisiana Urban Gardening Initiative. “It took us about three months to put the garden together and over time, people stopped by and asked how they could help. I had people donate flowers, seed, and their labor. Because once they realized it was for them and the value of having fresh food in their neighborhood, they started to pitch in.”

Smith said if anyone is interested in launching a community garden and would like their help, she can be reached through their Facebook page, Louisiana Urban Gardening Initiative, Inc.

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