"The whole time I was here, I had the farmer's market in the back of my mind," the 30-year-old says. "I kept mulling it over." She finally developed an eight-page business plan that included everything from categories of vendors to eligibility requirements. When she approached River Ranch developer Robert Daigle with her idea, the timing was perfect.
"It's something we've been looking at for probably two years," he says. "Not only does she know the concept, she's helped set them up before."
The fruits of Barton's labor debut at 8 a.m. this Saturday, June 11, as Acadiana's organic farmers, herb growers and artists will set up shop in River Ranch's Town Square for the city's first full-scale farmer's market. Named City Garden Market, it will complement the Acadiana Farmer's Market on Dulles Drive, which runs Saturday mornings from 5 a.m.-10 p.m. year-round and exclusively sells produce. "It's probably going to help us," says Dulles market's David Richter. "A lot of people just need to be reminded of the farmer's markets."
The City Garden Market is much larger, with three times the number of vendors and a wider array of products offered. Barton's goal is to secure approximately 50 core vendors, with participants rotating depending on availability and season. She initially looked at downtown locations for the market, but says she chose River Ranch "because it has a captive audience."
Barton has been conducting market meetings every Monday at the City Club and also coordinating with Crescent City Farmers Market to prepare for this weekend's opening. After handing out applications and sampling products, Barton chose about 30 vendors for the first market. She asks that vendors individually find out what permits and licenses they need to sell their products, but the market is following the guidelines of Crescent City's handbook, From the Field to the Table, based on FDA and USDA regulations. The market itself has to be licensed by Lafayette Consolidated Government as a food fair, like Mardi Gras and local festivals.
"That's how Crescent City and Baton Rouge dealt with it," she says. At press time, the market licensing resolution was scheduled for a city council vote Tuesday, June 7. Both Daigle and Barton have met with City-Parish President Joey Durel to ask for support. "I haven't had any discussions with any of the council members, but I can't imagine it not going through," Durel says. "I think it's a good fit for any area of town."
The market is rain or shine, and several family farms, including Gautreaux Family Farm in Scott and Pasttime Farms in Kentwood, will be participating. Acadiana vendors will be selling everything from fresh herbs, planters and flowers, and lip balm to old-fashioned Creole foods like pig's ears and crawfish pistolettes.
Bob and Nicole Romero of Youngsville own Three Brothers Farms and will be selling bags of raw sugar and their homemade fig products (mostly preserves) at the market. The Romeros drive to New Orleans twice a month to sell at Crescent City Farmer's Market, and will use the other two weekends in the month to sell in Lafayette. "For us, the market is vital," Bob says. "It's what keeps us as a farm from going out of business." The Romeros have about 600 fig trees in Youngsville and are also starting to harvest sugar cane to make raw sugar.
Bob is planning to commit to the Lafayette market for two years and is impressed by Barton's plans. "There's a lot of little things Leslie's doing that are going to make her market healthy," he says. He cites rules such as not allowing early sales so that everyone gets a fair window to shop and also praises her for making the market family friendly. (Shoppers do have the option of becoming a Friend of the Market for a fee and receiving early admission and other benefits.) He does hope to see a board of directors created, so that farmers' best interests are kept in mind and is concerned about market plans for the off-season.
Currently, the market will be open eight months out of the year and closed January-February and August-September. If the demand is there, Barton plans to offer just produce and possibly open up a Wednesday market in the off months. Romero says he'd like to sell his canned products year-round and doesn't want to be left out during the off season.
"Everything's going to be based on demand," says Barton. "Everybody's going to have to be patient and let it work itself out."
Hopefully he’ll be better prepared today than he was in that Feb. 20 deposition.
They came by the hundreds, arriving from all regions of the state to gather on the steps of our Capitol in protest of the Legislature’s long tradition of giving industry the go-ahead to abuse our air, our water and our coastline, all in the name of good economics.
Gov. Bobby Jindal’s recent rhetoric against President Barack Obama has failed to boost his standing among the conservative base.
Louisiana's annual legislative session begins.
The state has hired marksmen to shoot feral hogs from helicopters at two wildlife management areas in south Louisiana.
The former star of Saturday Night Live throws in his 2 cents on the Big Oil lawsuit.
Here's your daily look at late-breaking national and international news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Monday, March 10, 2014:
The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education has stalled action on a $3.5 billion annual school funding formula due to state lawmakers by March 15.
The New Orleans Saints have yet to make it official as of this writing, but popular wide receiver Lance Moore has reportedly been cut by the team to free up salary-cap space on the roster.
While two medical marijuana bills are slated for the upcoming legislative session, what some Louisianans might not know is that the plant was approved for therapeutic use by state lawmakers in 1991.
The agenda is shaping up to be lighter than in previous years. But Jindal is term-limited, with fewer than two years remaining in office, and he saw his last big initiative — a proposed rewrite of Louisiana tax law — collapse without getting a vote in 2013.
Sharper has been held without bail because of an arrest warrant issued by Louisiana authorities accusing him and another man of raping two women.
Two Lafayette men have been revealed by police as the infamous duo behind a caper that shook our fair city to its core.
The Lafayette Parish School Board has received a second letter of demand related to last year’s insurance debacle, this time from Key Benefit Administrators claiming it’s owed $93,000 from the school system.
The Louisiana coastline is vanishing faster than mappers can keep track.
A bill that would have overridden local ordinances prohibiting public and private employers from discriminating against lesbian, gay and transgender people has been pulled within less than a week of being filed.
The panel that selects nominees for a controversial New Orleans area flood control board — a board that is suing more than 90 oil, gas and pipeline companies — is set to discuss legislation affecting its independence.
State prison officials cannot keep secret the seller and manufacturer of the two drugs purchased for executions at the Louisiana State Penitentiary, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.
State lawmakers will not appeal a judge's ruling that it was improper to use $3.7 million from a probation and parole officers' retirement fund to balance the state's operating budget.
Conservatives have been losing their minds over this satirical bit on the Colbert Report.
The Lafayette Parish School Board leaves a lot to be desired, but is scrapping the election process in favor of an appointed board the answer?
The House approved legislation Tuesday night to roll back a recently enacted overhaul of the federal flood insurance program, after homeowners in flood-prone areas complained about sharp premium increases.
The NFL has formally designated New Orleans' Jimmy Graham as a tight end for the purposes of his franchise tag value, which is now set at $7.05 million next season unless Graham and the Saints subsequently agree on a long-term deal.
A federal appeals panel ruled Monday that businesses don't have to prove that they were directly harmed by BP's 2010 Gulf Of Mexico oil spill to collect settlement payments.
The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development has closed Interstate 10 from I-49 in Lafayette to Seigen Lane in Baton Rouge.