Sharing gardens provide community with free produce

LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) – It’s a number Food Finders Food Bank executive director Katy Bunder calls disturbing.

“We’re serving 80,800 individuals annually,” said Bunder.

Bunder said about 6,800 more people are relying on food pantries now than they were four years ago. She said often, families have to sacrifice buying healthy food just to put food on the table at all.

“Tomatoes, cucumber, zucchini — all of that wonderful produce — that’s one of the most expensive things you can get at the grocery store,” said Bunder.

Thanks to the help of several Lafayette organizations, families can now get the produce they need for free.

“People come and they take the beans, the tomatoes, the broccoli, the melons,” said garden volunteer Pauline Shen.

Shen helps run one of four neighborhood sharing gardens here in Lafayette. The goal of the gardens is to help those who can’t afford produce the chance to still serve their families a healthy, balanced meal.

“Fresh fruits and vegetables are very expensive and many people can’t afford to buy them, or they can’t afford to get there on the bus line. It’s not very close by,” said Shen. “So, you want to make it as readily available as possible.”

Shen said organizations from around Lafayette help plant and maintain the gardens. All residents have to do is show up and pick away.

The goal, she said, is that soon the community will take over the gardens and make it their own.

“The long-term hope is that it becomes sustainable and the neighborhood will learn to eat better, and take care of it themselves and want to do it,” said Shen.

She said they’d like to expand the garden next year, but she said they need more help from the community.

If you’d like to help volunteer, call the Tippecanoe County Health Department at 765-423-9221 and ask for Pauline Shen.

Sharing gardens in Lafayette include:

  • The Tippecanoe County Health Department – 629 N. Sixth St.
  • Lincoln Garden – 1126 N. Sixth St.
  • Bethany Church Garden – 3305 Longlois Drive
  • Community Reformed Church – 2501 S. 18th St.
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