Making An Impact: Organization planting Seeds of Hope in community

Marlisa Harding

Impact Agency is alive and well. The three-year-old youth empowerment and mentorship program has grown and evolved since its initial start. 

Most recently the group has taken on a project-based learning model, Ronald Blanchard, curriculum coordinator, said. While some agents chose to fundraise or develop their technology skills, Blanchard’s team decided to focus on agriculture. 

The Seeds of Hope Community Garden, 2009 Moeling St., was planted by the agents in March and has since yielded an abundant crop of eggplants, tomatoes, okra, peas and the like. 

“Agriculture is prized in Louisiana, but two generations ago, it seems people stopped doing that,” Blanchard said.  “It’s like nobody wants to get sweaty or get in the sun. But when you can find young men, and ladies, too, who are willing to do the work, the biggest reward is that you’re bringing people together.”

The agents working with Blanchard on the project said though they had limited first-hand experience with agriculture, the garden has been incredibly rewarding. 

“Seeing everything flourish like it is at the moment, it came out quite incredible,” Tyrese Green, a ninth-grader, said pointing to the garden.

Brayden Sinegal, a ninth-grader, said he understood the process of gardening but to witness it first hand was astounding. 

“I thought it was going to take a whole year or something. But to see how much it’s grown in this time is such an accomplished feeling.”

Beyond the life experience of cultivating and caring for a garden, Blanchard said the garden has multiple other positive intents. 

“It’s been well-documented that a community garden is good for everyone. It’s constantly nurturing the whole community.”

Crops harvested from Seeds of Hope will feed the elderly and needy free of charge and the public space allows all community members the opportunity to help tend to the land. 

“There’s a 100-year-old lady that’s been living right down the road,” Blanchard said.  “She can sit with Tyrese who is 14 years old and say, ‘Hold up. You’re not doing it right.’ She can tell him stories that are relevant to life, living, growing up or being a good citizen to your community. It just opens the door for everybody.”

Generations can gather at the garden and work together for the common good, he added. 

“Just like a garden needs nurturing, if it just grows and is not taken care of, it’ll just grow wild. We do this so they don’t grow wild,” Justinian Etienne, Impact Agency mentor, said, pointing to the agents working in the garden. 

In fact, it is for the young people of Southwest Louisiana that the garden holds the name Seeds of Hope, Blanchard said. 

“We want to remind the community that these young people are the seeds. So that people will look at them and see the potential for hope…They are the future. They’re the ones that will be controlling things 10, 20, 30 years down the road and they need our support.”

For more, contact Blanchard at 292-9761.

 

””Seeds of Hope GardenMarlisa Harding

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