Farm-to-table: Diner grows their own

Something special is sprouting at St. Joseph's Diner this Spring. And thanks to loyal volunteers, a thriving garden on-site is helping feed the diners.

It's a growing trend nationwide in homes and at many restaurants, but now self-sustainability has taken root in the non-profit sector. St. Joseph's Diner in Lafayette is the latest to reap the rewards of the “farm to table” movement.

“We are using what we have (in the garden) already in the diner. So excuse the phrase, but we are seeing the fruits of our labor already,” said Sarah Rabalais, the administrative coordinator.

From spinach, to carrots, lettuce, and potatoes, their repertoire is growing. While the diner still relies heavily on donations and non-perishable goods, it gives diners a little something extra.

“(It gives them) access to things they may not have on a regular basis, so at least at lunchtime here, we can give them a more nutritious, well-balanced plate of food,” said Rabalais.

It's been a labor of love for nearly a year and after a promising fall harvest, they're hoping spring and summer will produce even better. They already fertilize by composting, but they're taking self-sustainability to the next level.

“We will be getting chickens here shortly,” said diner director Leigh Rachal. “We'll be using them for their eggs so we can feed breakfast to the men who live at the shelter since we go through a lot of eggs.”

And thanks to hundreds of volunteers the garden continues to thrive. It also sends a positive message to those who live at St. Joseph's and help with the upkeep.

“It's a way for them to give back to each other,” said Rachal. “Not everything is done for them. They're doing something for another person, which is actually good for their being, good for their souls.”

A special fundraiser “Dine for the Diner” will be held Thursday, April 18th. Thirty-five participating restaurants will donate 10 percent of their sales to St. Joseph's Diner. For more information, click here

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