A crumbling LaPorte parking lot will soon be a perpetual community garden

A plan of the Jackson Street Community Garden. (Click to enlarge)

A plan of the Jackson Street Community Garden. (Click to enlarge)

EDITOR’S NOTE: For many years, the southeast corner of Jackson Street and Jefferson Avenue in LaPorte has been a crumbling and little-used parking lot. Now it has new promise as a community garden. Below is a description of the future garden written by Nate Loucks, pastor of State Street Community Church and president of the Pax Center in LaPorte. To view a video of Loucks introducing the garden project, click on this link:

http://www.nateloucks.net/blog/2016/3/10/jacksonstreetcommunitygarden  

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A few years ago, John and Jane Slater and I were discussing the possibility of starting a community garden for neighborhood kids around State Street. The Slaters had some experience in doing this in Rolling Prairie with great success. It’s always been our goal to do anything we can to help better our surrounding community, so the partnership made sense.

Loucks

Loucks

In the last few years since starting the Rolling Prairie garden, dozens of children have learned how to grow their own crops. They’ve made friends, expanded their food palate, and experienced the benefits of working together for the common good. Many people have given much time and energy to this program over the years and their work has made a difference.

Like everything else we do, there’s the thing as it begins and then the thing as it evolves. The community garden, and our involvement in urban gardening, is evolving. The Pax Center and State Street Community Church are partnering with other organizations in LaPorte to help manage the vision of the Jackson Street Community Garden. I couldn’t be more excited.

Why? Basil Hallberg describes perfectly the potential impact of a community garden on a place like LaPorte: “Community gardens supplement food security efforts by increasing the availability of nutritious foods to low-income urban residents. Community gardens can supply vegetables and fruits to needy participants and their families, but gardens alone will not eradicate food insecurity. Community gardening offers other benefits to society beyond providing a nutritious supply of fruits and vegetables. These include environmental benefits such as reuse of remediated brownfield sites and reductions in crime, vandalism and health care costs as well as increased social cohesion.

Community gardens contain the potential to change neighborhoods. Not only do they provide nutritious food to supplement one’s weekly diet, they also provide an important third space where others can be known and get to know others. They have the potential to combat hunger, loneliness and community apathy.

We will still have our Sprouts summer program (preschool through second grade) at State Street. But, starting this year, our summer gardening program for children will be at the Jackson Street Community Garden. We are also going to provide adult mentorship for those wanting to learn how to garden. Very soon, families and individuals will be able to reserve a plot in one of the garden boxes. Though the Pax Center will help control some of the vision of this space; it is our hope that the community will help own this space and use it to the betterment of our neighborhoods in LaPorte.

In the next couple of weeks, the drainage problem at the Jackson Street Community Garden will be getting fixed. After this issue is fixed, we will be installing the perimeter fence, building the garden boxes, and fixing up the site. Once this is done, we will open up registration for garden plots to the community.

So, here are a few questions you may have:

— What other organizations are partnering in this endeavor?

The primary partners of the Jackson Street Community Garden are the City of LaPorte, the Main Street Association, the LaPorte High School FFA and Agriculture classes, and State Street Community Church/The Pax Center. Many, many other individuals and organizations have helped get this project off the ground.

— How can we sign up for a garden box plot?

We will have details on how to sign up in the near future. Please pay attention to our Laporte Community Garden Facebook page.

— How can I help?

There are a few ways you can help: We need financial and corporate partners. If you would like to donate personally, you may donate securely online here: https://statestreet.cloverdonations.com/the-pax-center/

Your donation is tax-deductible. If your business would like to talk about what a partnership with the Jackson Street Community Garden may look like, email me. I’d love to meet with you.

Please share this news with your friends and neighbors. There will be some work days in the future where we will be building boxes, spreading mulch and dirt, and other things. Join us. We will list these days/times on our Laporte Community Garden Facebook page.

5 Responses to “A crumbling LaPorte parking lot will soon be a perpetual community garden”

  1. lawman

    Mar 17. 2016

    with vandalism the way it is around here, do you really think anything will ever grow? I look at the planters and I don’t see much hope.

    Reply to this comment
  2. waste

    Mar 18. 2016

    What a waste of time and space.. Half of those people don’t want to help themselves. The lot should of been made in to additional parking for working people.. the mayor and others need to wake up

    Reply to this comment
  3. Harry Henderson

    Mar 18. 2016

    Totally agree with last 2 comments.

    Reply to this comment
  4. please focus

    Mar 21. 2016

    Does anyone read the city code including the city The fence they are about to build will not meet code Do they even read their own code The rule is 3 1/2 feet tall and open along the streets. The fence they seem to be constructing is a farm animal fence in town. Please follow your own rules you make us follow them shouldn’t you
    Apparently Yes the neighborhood doesn’t deserve the same parking places as the elites. You take what you get and be happy This is for your own good whether you like it or not

    Reply to this comment
  5. Deby Lubke

    Jun 02. 2016

    Why are there so many haters, we are trying to improve a “drug neighborhood” maybe the haters do not want anything to bring attention to them, because they are doing something they should not be doing. Why would you want a parking lot instead of a means an way for families to have fresh vegetables, that probably otherwise could not afford them. Get a grip of the new LaPorte we are taking it back, Just saying.

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