Earth Day: LaPlace church planting garden for community to enjoy

Published 12:07 am Saturday, April 22, 2017

LAPLACE — Debria Upton says she does not have a green thumb.

What the associate pastor at First United Methodist Church in LaPlace does have is a vision.

Upton sees a spot of land behind her church on Bamboo Road and envisions a lush garden filled with vegetables, herbs and an orchard of fruit trees.

She sees members, not just of her church community, but the entire St. John the Baptist Parish community coming together to plant those edibles and maintain the gardens.

Then she sees people coming to harvest the crops.

It’s called a Community Garden, a place where people and plants can help a neighborhood, and soon, the First United Methodist Church will have one.

The first steps will be taken today as the Church celebrates Earth Day with a Children’s Festival from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Debria Upton, Associate Pastor at First United Methodist Church in LaPlace, holds some of the ‘most beautiful dirt you’ve ever seen,’ which was donated for the community garden to be planted today at the church. The project is being spearheaded by Upton.

Besides the laying out of the garden, the event will offer food, crafts and a petting farm for children.

The event is free and open to the public.

The garden will be started on a spot beside the church with four 6-foot by 6-foot boxes to be planted with cucumbers, tomatoes, eggplants and celery. A Satsuma tree will be planted as well.

Upton said the project is need driven.

“There is a lot of need in our community,” Upton said. “We have a food pantry, which we collect items for and distribute. This is another way to help feed the hungry. It’s a good example of how God provides through the nourishment of the soil.”

Upton said it also may help satisfy the need for healthier eating.

Parishioner Bob McMullen is building the boxes. Esohe Arun has volunteered, and a nursery has donated the plants and the dirt to be used.

The community garden at St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church, located at 1101 Belle Alliance Dr. in LaPlace, is open to all residents who wish to use it, not just church members. Residents who may not have a yard or who have pets are welcome to plant their favorite vegetables and herbs. (Lori Lyons/L’OBSERVATEUR)

Remembering Upton’s brown thumb, Maggie Landry and Carla Ringuette, who are the resident experts on green living, recycling and clean eating, have been put in charge of the project.

“I’m the resident vegetarian,” Ringuette said.

As for Landry, Upton said, “Nothing goes to waste with her.”

They all hope to encourage others to adopt healthier eating habits.

“We hope to use this to inspire people to eat cleaner and healthier foods as opposed to those things you get out of cans and packages,” she said.

“That’s what we’re hoping will end up happening.”

Community gardens have been around for a while, offering free green space to those who may not have a yard, may not have room for a garden or those who have pets.

St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church in LaPlace started its community garden several years ago under the direction of church parishioner Ruth Montgomery and Master Gardener Mary Oncale.

Anyone in the community may use the garden to plant and harvest the crops, which include tomatoes, squash and various herbs.

“That’s been kind of the problem,” said parishioner John Montgomery.

“People, at first thought, ‘well, it’s the church’s garden.’ It’s for the community. Anybody can use it and plant anything they want — well, anything legal.”

Earth Day began in 1970 as a protest of an oil spill off the coast of California.

Today it is celebrated in 192 countries as a promotion for green activities and to raise awareness of the planet and its health.

Upton said Saturday’s event also is a way to help reach the younger members of the congregation.

“In doing my course work there’s a lot of emphasis on doing things for children,” she said. “This is one of the ways we can do that.”

For more information, call 985-652-6560.

Visit to find out about Earth Day.