Tag Archives: #stfrancisvegetablegarden

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A new report came out this week that says Louisiana ranks near the bottom of the country for everyday people's access to locally grown foods. Like only three states — Arizona, Nevada and Texas — rank worse.

The report, called the Locavore Index by a Vermont-based group, ranks states according to number of farmer's markets, number of CSAs, number of food hubs (basically people who collect and distribute food from local farms and producers) and percentage of schools districts with farm-to-school programs.

And Louisiana doesn't look good. I don't know about you, but I've lived in the South long enough that I get tired of all the reports and research that shows the South stinks on everything from education to obesity and now access to local food. And yes, I know most are true. But I also know statistics don't define us.

So with that, I guess I see the discussion, discovery and celebration of local produce and the ways we share our food — I don't think the researchers in Vermont know about all my friends' backyard gardens or the guy that sells raw honey off his back porch — that we can nurture a culture that champions fresh, local foods.

And like the new Saint Francis Vegetable Garden that will start supplying fresh local food to area food banks this year, I see the interest. And everywhere I see the tradition. . . if we can just fight the culture of advertisers and their fast food.

Anyway, I've been thinking about farmer's markets, accessibility and the cost of produce a lot lately. So look for more on farmer's markets, home gardening and untracked roadside/home produce "stands" in Louisiana and the US. All things that make this assessment of accessability more complicated than stripped-down data presents and all the more reason to keep finding fresh.

laLOUISIANA

flourish

sfvgI really believe in local food and local health, for everyone. Research has shown that in this age of prepackaged food, those in the lower income levels have the least access to fresh, quality food.

And that is just what Kimber Ratcliff saw when she went to the local Food Bank — empty refrigerators and shelves full of processed foods like Coke and chips.

The food bank just gives what people donate. And that's what people feed their 3 year olds.

This inspired this master gardener and Austin, Texas, transplant to look for a way to grow fresh, local food for those with the least access as well as educate the community on the importance of local, fresh food.

The result is the Saint Francis Vegetable Garden — a community garden made possible by local businesses, Catholic Charities and the city of Thibodaux. The city donated the 1/2 acre behind the civic center as well as the water to grow the garden. And now they are going to work with volunteers . . . everyone from school groups to everyday citizens . . . to help grow, harvest and deliver the goods.

Mostly what I love about this project is that it underscores how health and fresh food is a community issue . . . the whole community . . . not just those who can afford access. . . .and sometimes that access just means teaching people how to grow their own.

The first planting should be in the next couple weeks. So check them out, maybe help out and show that fresh, local food isn't trendy . . . . it's our community's lifeblood.

thib_la_heartTHIBODAUX

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