Zoo Buddy: How much do you know about the gardens at the zoo?

Published: Jul. 7, 2021 at 1:52 PM CDT
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MONROE, La. (KNOE) - When people think of the Louisiana Purchase Gardens & Zoo, they usually think of the amazing animals, but the gardens are just as unique. In this Zoo Buddy segment, we’re learning more about the Louisiana Kitchen Garden.

“It’s been here about 10 years and we just thought it was a great way to use the space and entice people down the walkway as they head for the train ride, which we’re proud to say is up and running now,” says Kerry Heafner with the LSU Ag Center.

“And so what we’ve done is we’ve tried to plant heirloom-type vegetables and flowers in these beds, things that would be found in a typical Louisiana kitchen garden 200 years ago. The corn for example is a south Louisiana heirloom called yellow creole and it’s just about gone, we could call it functionally extinct, but there’s diversity in the corn crop of all the varieties if we lose that one variety that could be significant if we needed a lot of genetic diversity later on,” Heafner said.

The garden gives people a chance to see how the crop translates to their plate.

“The squash are the heirloom type pattypan squash, says Heafner.

“We have cayenne peppers. The English pea, that’s on its way down now since the weather’s turned warm, it’s from the Jones’ family in Winn Parish and dates back to the 1860s, so a lot of neat vegetables and we get to see not only what they look like but we get to see what people would have seen 200 years ago and we get to taste what they tasted so it’s really quite interesting.”

The zoo is open every day of the week from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and you can call them at (318) 329-2400 for more information. The boat ride, train ride, and reptile building are all back open! You can reach out to the LSU Ag Center’s Ouachita Parish office at (318) 323-2251 and find out more information here.

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