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Community garden part of effort to revitalize Paris's West Side neighborhood

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Posted at 11:30 PM, Jun 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-14 23:33:42-04

PARIS, Ky. (LEX 18) — Community organizers say the growth that's happening in a Paris park is just one piece of a larger effort to revitalize the West Side neighborhood.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Paris Community Daylily Farm was held Monday in Chief Reed Park. The farm features many varieties of Daylily plants available for purchase, with all proceeds going to park improvements and the FFA program at Paris Independent Schools. It also has a section where food is grown.

"We're growing herbs, vegetables, fruits," said Andrea Pompei Lacy, Project Coordinator for the farm.

The hope is the farm will improve access to food in the West Side community, a historically African American neighborhood that's considered a food desert, she said.

It will also be a place for kids to learn to garden, said Terry Dumphord, Founder of The Voyage Movement, a community organization that offers children's programs and operates a community center in the neighborhood.

"When you're trying to restore, rebuild your neighborhood you have to start somewhere," he said. "Why not start with mother earth?"

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The organization's camp will learn in the garden, said Nadia Hutsell, President of the Voyage Movement.

"To get the kids out here, to get their hands in the dirt," she said. "A lot of kids don't know about gardens and things."

Addressing food insecurity is just one of the goals of the City of Paris and Bourbon County's West Side Neighborhood Strategic Action Plan, released in September 2020.

"Any time you have to go travel outside your neighborhood for fresh food is a concern for any neighborhood," Dumphord said.

The community is considered a food desert because it does not have a full-service store within a 15–20-minute walk, according to the plan.

It also faces blight, with 9 vacant dilapidated residential buildings.

Plus, neighborhood homes are aging. The average home value in the West Side neighborhood is $77,400, much lower than Paris's average of $165,800, the plan reads.

The plan lays out action steps to encourage homeownership, like rezoning areas to allow for townhomes, duplexes, and other residences.

It also aims to increase rental options, improve infrastructure like sidewalks, and promote the neighborhood.

The garden is already drawing new people to the community, Hutsell said.

"I'm just excited just because it's bringing so many opportunities to this side of town and so many people that have never been over here," Hutsell said.

To find out how to purchase daylilies from the farm go to: parisdaylilyfarm.org