Volunteers help first South Park Community Garden

Volunteers help first South Park Community Garden

Volunteers broke ground in October on the South Park Community Garden, an initiative by Lamar University and the Greater South Park Neighborhoods Partnership to provide access to gardening space, training and nutritious food for local residents and students.

“This new garden is important, firstly, because it brings the community together,” said Deep Narula, president of LU Green Squad. “Secondly, there’s a huge demand for fresh food in this area. It is imperative that we add more fruits, vegetables and healthy foods into our everyday diets, and more people need to know how to grow them.”

After a groundbreaking commemoration Oct. 8, volunteers from campus and community groups, including St. James United Methodist Church, Jack and Jill of America, LU Green Squad and Beta Alpha Psi accounting honors society, worked through the morning to till the ground, build and fill raised beds, and spread soil and mulch.

Children in attendance were able to plant the garden’s first seeds — including tomatoes, beets, and green beans — with the help of LU students.

Narula said he hopes that this initiative will especially impact these children.

“Kids from a young age need to learn about how fruits and veggies grow; knowing how their food gets from the ground to their plate is very important for their understanding of food and nutrition,” he said. “When we know that process, we can be conscious about our food and food choices, and help with poverty reduction.”

By the close of the workday at noon, eight raised beds and four taller, disability accessible beds were built, positioned, filled with soil and ready for planting. This exceeded the expected output of six or seven beds, according to Alicen Flosi, LU director of sustainability.

Ritter Lumber donated enough lumber for 25 raised beds, which will be built on future workdays. Individuals interested in planting can sign up for these plots as they become available.

“All members of the local community are welcome to ‘adopt’ a plot and garden it as long as they take care of it — we want people to have free access to fresh produce in an area where affordable produce is scarce,” Narula said.

The idea for the garden originated with Dr. Japera Levine, a local foot and ankle specialist and Beaumont native who witnessed similar successful projects during her graduate studies across the country. When she read in the Beaumont Business Journal about the Greater South Park Neighborhoods Partnership, an initiative to revitalize South Park and attract new businesses to the area surrounding Lamar University, she was inspired to introduce the concept of a community garden.

She said she hopes the community garden will give South Park residents a greater sense of self-sufficiency.

“We’re educating the public to not only preserve the earth we live on, but also to preserve themselves and maintain their health,” she said. “It’s important for children to learn how to take care of themselves and not have their health suffer, which makes them less independent with medical expenses in the long run.”

The South Park Community Garden is at the corner of Jimmy Simmons Boulevard and Vermont Street. Call (409) 880-8612.


--Lamar University