More than 80 gardening plots coming to affordable housing families, bringing fresh produce, new skills
By early spring, cabbage, lettuce, mustard greens and more will be growing in new, raised vegetable beds — 84 in all — at communities of the East Baton Rouge Housing Authority.
The effort is aimed at providing fresh produce and marketable skills to residents "that will last a lifetime," said J. Wesley Daniels, chief executive director of the housing authority.
The new vegetable beds will be put in at 11 affordable housing communities located throughout the city, where working families live while planning to move out of assisted living.
The effort is a joint project of the East Baton Rouge Housing Authority and an endeavor called the Baton Roots Community Farm.
The community farm is located inside the BREC Howell Park and provides fresh-grown produce to agencies serving the needy and to residents who live in areas without supermarkets.
A portion of the farm is also open to the public for harvesting, said Helena Williams, director of operations and communications for the Walls Project, a nonprofit organization that partnered with Mayor Sharon West Broome's HealthyBR initiative to create the Baton Roots Community Farm.
One goal of the project to bring gardening to low income housing families is to "demystify" growing one's own vegetables, Williams said.
The 84 raised vegetable beds will range in number from four to 12 at each of the affordable housing communities, depending on the number of residents and available space. The beds will be put in during February and March, and will be filled with young plants that Baton Roots raises from seed in a greenhouse at Southern University, Williams said.
Staff from the Baton Roots Community Farm — which harvested and gave away more than 12,000 pounds of food in 2020 — will be on hand weekly to help families, from the youngsters to the senior members, learn about raising, harvesting and cooking the crops to enjoy at their dinner tables.
"It will truly be an intergenerational effort for our families," said Daniels.