GREATER LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) -- Food insecurity is an issue many communities are facing nationwide. Under this pandemic, those needs have been amplified. Lafayette non-profit GrowLocal Urban Gardens leaders are encouraging people to take advantage of their community gardens.
"We have this produce here and as a community, it's something we can hopefully contribute to and that seems even more important during a pandemic," said Patrick DeBonis, Lafayette resident.
Sharing Garden's aren't new to Greater Lafayette, but in this pandemic, GrowLocal leaders are finding these gardens more important now than ever.
"There are about 22-23 gardens around town some are private gardens for churches and things but there are about 10 or 12 sharing gardens," said Ken McCammon, Erie St. Sharing Garden co-manager.
GrowLocal leaders call the gardens "Sharing Gardens" because it's open for everyone to plant and take from the same garden. This is different from a "Community Garden" where people plant and take from inside their own personal posts that sit within a garden.
This sharing garden is located at the intersection of Erie St., Cincinnati St. and N 14th St. in Lafayette. At this location, you'll find a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables. Part of that is thanks to Ken McCammon who helped get the garden started by planting the first seeds five years ago.
"I grew over 4,000 transplants with about 20 different species for distribution for those gardens," said McCammon.
That number just accounts for this year.
McCammon's sharing garden co-manager Margy Deverall said COVID-19 has impacted food security among people in Greater Lafayette.
"We know that Food Finders is having a lot more people come there for food," said Deverall.
Many of the sharing gardens are located in parts of Lafayette that have neighborhoods with a higher population of food-insecure residents according to Deverall. She said the gardens have been beneficial for those living in these neighborhoods, especially during this pandemic.
"The neighborhoods that most of these gardens are in, tend to be disadvantaged neighborhoods and places where people are probably food insecure," said Deverall.
She said some people are using the sharing garden to supplement the items they can't get through SNAP benefits at the store.
"We talked to one woman she uses that (SNAP Benefits) to buy protein, so she buys hot dogs, or fish sticks or chicken or whatever. She comes here to get her greens, she comes here to get her green beans, or her tomatoes, or whatever happens to be growing," said Deverall.
These gardens are completely volunteer-run, Deverall said all they ask of community members who take from the garden is to either help plant or pull weeds if they're able.
"People who need food, come and get it," said Deverall.
Any food that is not picked is donated to Lafayette Transitional Housing and other community outreach programs.
These are the Greater Lafayette Sharing Garden locations:
Bethany Sharing Garden - 3305 Longlois Drive, Lafayette, IN
Brown Street United Methodist Garden - 905 Brown St. Lafayette, IN
Erie Street Neighbors Garden - 612 Erie St. Lafayette, IN
First Baptist Church Garden - 411 N. 7th St. Lafayette, IN
Footbridge Sharing Garden - 244-264 Smith St. Lafayette, IN
Howarth Garden - 615 N. 18th St. Lafayette, IN
Lincoln Sharing Garden - 1126 N. 6th St. Lafayette, IN
N12 Community Garden - 1733 N. 12th St. Lafayette, IN
Salvation Army Community Garden - 1110 Union St. Lafayette, IN
Trinity United Methodist Church Garden -= 404 N. 6th St. Lafayette, IN
You can keep up with GrowLocal Urban Gardens here.