Vidalia agriculture: Leaders hope to grow plan

Published 12:02 am Monday, February 25, 2013

Vidalia — City of Vidalia officials hope to plant a seed Tuesday that will potentially grow for years to come.

Representatives from the city, the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry and local farmers will meet at 11 a.m. Tuesday at the Miss-Lou Mini Ag Expo at the Vidalia Conference and Convention Center.

Coordinator Larry Chauvin said the event is part of a health and wellness initiative he hopes local residents will begin embracing.

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“What we’re trying to do is offer as much information to people as we can to get them started growing and planting their own fruits and vegetables,” Chauvin said. “This is an opportunity to get people out and involved in the community.”

Jeremy Hendrix with the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry’s Farmers Market Nutrition Program will be at the expo Tuesday to provide information about the program, which provides low-income seniors and WIC clients with fresh, locally grown fruits, vegetables, honey and cut herbs directly from farmers.

Information regarding a U.S. Department of Agriculture program that provides assistance to small farmers, veterans and disadvantaged producers will also be available at the expo.

People with a green thumb who want to begin farming, but don’t have the space can speak to Terri Morris, a master gardener who is in charge of the Vidalia Community Garden.

The 20-acre garden on D.A. Biglane offers residents the ability to reserve plots and plant crops at their leisure.

Chauvin said he hopes residents involved in the community garden will take any excess crops and sell them at the Vidalia farmer’s market.

The market starts in June and was previously located in front of the Old Courthouse on Carter Street.

But this year, the farmer’s market will be located at the Vidalia Municipal Complex on U.S. 84 in front of City Hall.

The benefit to moving the market to the complex, Chauvin said, will be seen once the William T. Polk City Park is complete.

The city park, which is located on 25 acres of land to the west of the municipal complex, will feature basketball courts, a fishing pond with amenities, a spray ground fountain area and a walking trail, among other things.

The park is currently operating under a five-phase, five-year plan with expected completion of the park slated for 2016.

Funding for the city park project comes from matching grants through the U.S. Department of Interior in the amount of $250,000 for each phase.

“Once the park get’s going, that area will be full of activity,” Chauvin said. “If we can go ahead and get some of these programs going and get the market out there, I think it will be great for the city.”

The expo is free and open to the public.