Monday, June 3, 2013
|Photos by Lucius A. Fontenot|
Robin Farms, a 42-acre family-owned farm located in Church Point, is a familiar name to folks interested in the slow foods scene in Acadiana. Chefs regularly purchase Robin Farms produce for their restaurants, the LSU AgCenter has experimental pepper and tomato plots on the land, and consumers rely on the farm as a source for locally grown fruit and vegetables. Owned and operated by Brandt and Jamie Robin, it was established almost 15 years ago, and the couple is continually increasing their farm operations as well as their presence in the local foods community. Brandt, a board member for the Louisiana Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association, has been selling at Acadiana Farmers Market for 22 years, while Jamie opened an on-site farm stand in 2009 to accommodate the increasing demand for their vegetables.
“Our produce business has grown every year and we sold our produce mainly at the farmers markets and to Super 1 Foods,” says Jamie. “We are now expanding our business to several restaurants. Many of our customers like the idea that we sell to restaurants and [want to know where their food is] coming from.”
Pimon Thai has been purchasing Robin Farms peppers and other produce for 10 years, while local eateries Jolie’s Louisiana Bistro and Saint Street Inn began regularly purchasing the farm’s fruits and vegetables approximately two years ago. Saint Street Inn is currently featuring Robin Farms squash (among other local farms’ produce) in its farmers’ market sandwich, while Jolie’s uses the farm’s vegetables in their fried green tomatoes, watermelon, caviar salad and more. Additionally, Great Harvest Bread Co. incorporates Robin Farms zucchini and strawberries in their menu when seasonally available.
“As a member of this community, we think it’s important to use local ingredients as often as we can,” says Michelle MacFadyen, co-owner of Great Harvest Bread Co. “For example, all of our yeast breads are made with Bernard’s Acadiana honey instead of sugars. When fruits and vegetables are available from local farmers, we do our best to incorporate them in the menu. It’s not easier [to process fresh produce], but it’s the right thing to do. We have a positive impact on our community, on our environment and on our bodies when we eat fresh and local.”
Two recurring concerns driving the growing local foods movement include consumer interest in where foods are being grown and prepared and an increasing demand for freshly harvested food items. For these reasons, slow foods eateries — restaurants that regularly buy locally grown foods from producers like Robin Farms — are gaining popularity throughout the United States.
“It’s important for me to support local food eateries,” says Lacey Hebert, a mid-wife, ecologist and mother. “Not only am I helping support my friends and neighbors who run them, but I’m supporting common values that we share; i.e. the importance of eating good, fresh, local food that doesn’t take two weeks, 1,000 miles, and excessive fuel consumption to get here.”
Robin Farms shares these values and is interested in providing produce for more restaurants in Acadiana. “Most consumers are out of touch as to where [restaurant and store] produce supply is coming from,” says Brandt. “When a restaurant and store buys from us they know that their produce has been brought to them within hours of harvest and assures first quality freshness.”
In addition to working with restaurants to provide fresh, local menu options, Robin Farms is offering their first community-supported agriculture (CSA) share this spring/summer and fall. The program allows consumers to pay in advance for a weekly subscription of 10 to 12 weeks of fresh, seasonal produce. In Acadiana, Robin Farms, Gotreaux Family Farms, Mark and Mary’s City Farm, EarthShare Gardens and a collaboration between Helping Hands Farm and Bayou Farm all offer CSAs to the public. The shares provide consumers with a regular source of local produce during the growing season and, in return, consumers provide revenue in advance to the producers.
“In vegetable farming, you make most of your money in the summer months and make enough money to get by the rest of the year,” says Jamie. “We decided to offer this CSA to help us out with the expenses of the season, and in return our CSA members receive the freshest produce we have available and they have first option on our specialty crops.”
newsy bits for the fam
Festival International de Louisiane is right around the corner — April 23-27 — and IND Monthly’s second annual Fest fIND contest is along for the ride.
Acadian rep notifies would-be supporters that an April 25 fundraiser for the embattled U.S. rep won’t go on as planned.
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While it isn’t all too unusual for public bodies to have hired security present during meetings, the LPSB’s push to do so is arguably a response to the antics of one board member.
“I’m running. Why would I be raising all this money? Just to have to return it to people?”
With incumbent U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu watching from afar, and with a united Democratic Party in her corner, the fight to get the GOP officially behind Congressman Bill Cassidy is gaining just as much momentum as it is hushed controversy.
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
15th Judicial District Judge Durwood Conque has announced that he will not seek re-election after 27 years on the bench.
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The controversial standardized tests are set to be used in third-grade through eighth-grade public school classrooms next year.
The Louisiana Senate has agreed to prohibit unmanned aircraft from flying over chemical plants, water treatment systems, telecommunications networks and other items considered "critical infrastructure" in Louisiana.
A Scott businessman has pleaded guilty to failing to report a conspiracy to award Opelousas Housing Authority construction bids to his company.
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Tuesday's Blogs from the Bog!
Here's your daily look at late-breaking national and international news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Tuesday, April 15, 2014:
An unholy trinity of civil-society upheavalers whose first names are not Conner, Tanner or Logan are facing charges in Eunice.
Now that lawmakers have shot down efforts to cap annual interest rates for payday loans, supporters for stricter regulations of the storefront lenders are rallying behind another strategy.
The Appropriations Committee held public testimony day, letting people talk about what they like or don't like about Gov. Bobby Jindal's budget recommendations for the 2014-15 fiscal year that begins July 1.
Court-appointed examiner says Lafayette businessman was “effectively on both sides” of transactions, opens door for legal action against him.
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
Lafayette-based insurance broker/risk management group bought by Florida firm for undisclosed sum; principals Landry and Harris continue to run local operations.
Lafayette police are investigating the death of a 21-year-old woman whose body was found early Sunday in a drainage ditch in Girard Park.
Former Grant parish District Attorney Ed Tarpley says he's running for the U.S. House seat currently held by Republican Vance McAllister of Swartz.
Louisiana-Lafayette got strong starting pitching and timely hitting to hold off Arkansas-Little Rock 6-3 in Sun Belt Conference baseball in Lafayette, La.
The life and legacy of Dave Perkins will be commemorated with a special INDesign Lifetime Achievement Award as part of the 2014 event on April 24.
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