Another abandoned LaPorte lot will soon grow green

The former Lenick’s Dairy building at Brighton and Pulaski streets.

Many LaPorteans of a certain age fondly remember the former Lenick’s Dairy at the corner of Brighton and Pulaski streets as a malt shop, where people gathered to enjoy ice cream concoctions of all kinds. Lenick’s also delivered milk and other dairy products to LaPorte residents for many years.

But for some time now, the former Lenick’s store lot has stood empty. That will soon change thanks to the Pax Center.

The Pax Center, a LaPorte non-for-profit organization with headquarters at 605 Washington St., has already established itself in many ways as a source of help for individuals and families who need support. One of its most visible successes in the community is the Jackson Street Community Garden, which was transformed from an unused, crumbling parking lot to a thriving green space that provides vegetables to community residents, as well as an educational site where young people can learn how to grow their own gardens.

According to its press release:

“Months ago, State Street Community Church was approached to take ownership of the former Lenick’s Dairy building on the corner of Brighton and Pulaski. It is a large area with ample space to do more good work. In August, State Street became the owners of this property and that marked the beginning of Brighton Street Green Space. There is currently an old but large dairy building on the premises that will be demolished. Once the building is demolished, the plan for revitalization can truly begin. The plan includes more community garden space, an Education Resource Center building for learning with electric and plumbing, and a larger u-pick section for community members. Like the Jackson Street Community Garden, this new garden location is in an economically depressed area in desperate need of revitalization.

“This project is significantly bigger than the Jackson Street Community Garden and will have the capacity to help many more people. By utilizing the Jackson Street Community Garden space and the Brighton Street Green Space, significant inroads will be made in the availability of fresh produce in economically depressed neighborhoods. With the Education Resource Center, the green space will be able to be utilized for nutritional education purposes in a way the Jackson Street Community Garden is not currently able.

“The Pax Center is passionate about building sustainable and thriving food systems, partnered with those in and out of poverty. Unfortunately, for many in LaPorte County, there is a profound lack of access to healthy food and education about nutritional life choices. Community gardens contain the potential to change neighborhoods. Not only do they provide nutritious food to supplement one’s regular diet, they also provide an important communal space where individuals can be known and get to know others. Gardens have the potential to combat hunger, loneliness, and community apathy. There are countless potential benefits to physical, mental, and emotional health. In the short two-year history of the Jackson Street Community Garden, the impact is evident in the number of people given access to healthy food, educated about nutritional life choices, and connected with a broader community.

“The success of the Jackson Street Community Garden is impressive. With 44 local children in our garden club, nearly 50 individual boxes used, and many people using our u-pick area, the downtown space has been maximized.”

The Pax Center was established in 2015 after a donor gave State Street Community Church the Washington Street property, which had been a bar. More than 10,000 people are fed each year through the center’s food pantry and weekly community meals.

For more information on the Pax Center, visit its Facebook page.

One Response to “Another abandoned LaPorte lot will soon grow green”

  1. Julie Kessler

    Oct 14. 2017

    Fantastic! So many of us are unaware that empty-calorie snacks and calorie-heavy but low-nutrition foods are often the only foodstuffs available within walking distance in economically depressed or urban areas. Lack of education can steer overall unhealthy choices when at a grocery store. This is wonderful planning. Thank you, Pax on behalf of those in need and the community which benefits from having more healthy citizens.

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