A family in Cecilia has big plans for the land they purchased last week to attract visitors from all over Acadiana and beyond.

The Ballengee family who runs the Atelier de la Nature which means nature workshop plan to transform into a nature reserve and a sculpture garden.

It may not look like it now but decades ago this was a small sugar cane field.

As Brandon Ballengee walks through this land he recently purchased, he is envisioning a nature trail.

“It’s really poetic cause now you got this forest growing the middle of this agricultural land that’s come back so it’s great metaphor that we are apart of nature and nature is a part of us and like that connection between the way that we really need nature to survive and we need to nurture nature for our survival.” he said.

The second part of the project is a sculpture garden.

Ballengee says they will bring in artists from all over the world to fill the area with art.

“Sculptures that will be made out of natural materials so over time they decompose and go back to the landscape and also others that create habitats for wildlife and others that just help to inspire people about the special nature that we have here in south Louisiana.” said Ballengee

Jennifer Stelly of the St. Martin Economic Development Authority is excited to see what this brings to the area.

“Eco-tourism is real big here in st. Martin parish. We have all kinds of natural resources. People come from far and wide to see the basin and what this place does is really integrate our natural resources with art, with science, with education and that’s something you can’t find in a lot of places much less here in Cecilia.” said Ballengee.

For Ballangee, it’s all about highlighting what makes Louisiana great.

“We always think about how special the food and the music of south Louisiana is, but the nature is incredibly special too and marry those together as best as we can.” said Ballengee

Now the next step is working the state to see the best way to map out the walking trails but there is no timetable on when the nature reserve will be complete.

There will also be an Atelier de la Nature Expansion Event on January 18th at 6pm at 1050 Andrew Gautreaux Road, Arnaudville, LA.

“Family friendly nature trails are planned and invited artists will create outdoor sculptures and installations out of mostly natural materials.” said Ballengee.



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