Residents will soon have free access to fresh fruit in Terrebonne and Lafourche thanks to a grant received by the St. Francis Vegetable Garden in Thibodaux.

The $3,000 grant from Louisiana Healthy Communities Coalition has provided 90 key lime, lemon and orange trees to be planted around the area for public consumption.

The grant money was designed to help provide free, healthy food to the public,  especially to those with limited access to fresh fruits. More trees have been acquired for the project through local donations to the garden, and the total number to be planted has already exceeded 100.

Cheryl Skinner, garden coordinator of the St. Francis Vegetable Garden, said the trees will go to community sites such as schools, churches and recreation centers.

“St. Francis started because the food banks weren’t receiving a lot of fresh produce,” Skinner said. “But there is a growing community interest in learning to grow their own food. We’re also holding gardening classes now so we can also tie into how to grow citrus through the program as well. It will enable more people to have access to fresh fruits and vegetables.” 

Joseph and James Leger of Houma plant a thornless key lime tree at the St. Francis Vegetable Garden in Thibodaux.

Skinner said the LSU AgCenter helped get the idea off the ground, and with determining where the trees would go.

“We were one of the lucky ones who got the grant,” Skinner said. “I thought that was a great idea, because in all the public spaces we do have, it’s like, ‘Why not plant a citrus tree?’ There’s very little maintenance, and people can pick it if they pass by when they’re hungry.”

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