"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."
Black Friday shopping begins; Pope visiting Turkey; oil prices decline and more national and international news for Friday, November 28, 2014.
Friday's Blogs from the Bog!
The fight to clean up Lafayette Parish could get some added ammunition with two ordinances up for votes Tuesday by the City-Parish Council targeting litter-bugs.
By striking a deal to lessen the blow of health insurance changes on state workers, school employees and retirees, Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration lowered the volume of criticism but gave itself and local school boards a new budget headache.
With the airport tax coming up for a parishwide vote in about a week, the Broussard City Council and its mayor have come out in support of the proposal.
Protesters rallied peacefully in several Louisiana cities in the wake of the Missouri grand jury decision not to indict a police officer in the fatal shooting of Michal Brown.
The U.S. rep billed LSU for work allegedly performed on the same days Congress voted on major legislation and held important committee hearings on energy and the ACA.
Abysmally low participation by the public has prompted the council to scuttle the 2014 survey with plans to simplify it and try again next year.
The village now says the ordinance will likely be overturned and authorities will more vigorously enforce existing leash laws.
Bill Cassidy cast an early ballot Tuesday, seeking to draw renewed attention to a race that has fallen off newspaper front pages and away from people's minds as they plan holiday meals and shopping schedules.
Battered all night by Baltimore's relentless pass rush, Drew Brees could feel his protection collapsing and Terrell Suggs getting ahold of him as he urgently unloaded a pass to the right flat toward tight end Jimmy Graham.
After a convincing defeat at the polls on Nov. 4, Earl “Nickey” Picard has decided to let bygones be bygones with his former right-hand man Brian Pope, announcing his support for his former employee’s runoff bid to become Lafayette’s next city marshal.
Saturday the athletic department did everything possible to ensure the 2014 Ragin’ Cajun seniors remembered fondly their last home game. Rain and lightning never arrived but turbulence did in the form of the Appalachian State Mountaineers.
Even stranger than the Republican Party’s decision to hold a “unity rally” earlier this month for Congressman Bill Cassidy in a Baton Rouge bar, Huey’s Bar, was the fact that the establishment was named after Louisiana’s most famous Democrat.
Bar Code is not a gay bar.
After failing to pass a medical marijuana bill last year, state Sen. Fred Mills, R-Parks, is telling supporters he will return in 2015 with legislation that focuses on different applications like oils and pills.
Voters, obviously, are not yet tuned into the 2015 ballot, despite the intriguing races it will host.
By now, the story of how longtime LSU coach Dale Brown discovered Shaquille O'Neal has been told many times: Brown happened upon a massive 13-year-old at an army base in Germany, stayed in touch with him and eventually became like a second father.
Fate simply wasn't ready to give the New Orleans Saints a break from longtime nemesis Steve Smith.
Lafayette Police have had a busy day.
Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration will use $130 million in patchwork financing from a tax amnesty program, insurance settlement, uninsured motorist penalties and other excess funds to close most of the state's midyear budget deficit.
Democratic U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu said she disagrees with President Barack Obama's actions on immigration, hoping the latest controversy doesn't worsen her campaign difficulties.
Gay-rights advocates challenging Louisiana's same-sex marriage ban announced Thursday that they have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review their case before it is heard by a federal appeals court.
Thinking himself the “son of God,” the man charged with the 2013 killing of an officer of the Chitimacha Tribal Police will not stand trial following a ruling Thursday on his mental competency.
Either Saints coach Sean Payton doesn't want to tip Baltimore off as to who'll start in New Orleans' secondary on Monday night, or he really doesn't know yet.