"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."
The Lafayette superintendent insists the budget is illegal and vows to fight on.
"I am not a scientist," Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell has said numerous times, a response that other members of his party have parroted.
Republicans are running strong races against endangered Democratic incumbents in states such as North Carolina, Colorado, Arkansas, Louisiana and Alaska. Republicans are also looking to replace retiring Democrats in Iowa and West Virginia with a GOP lawmaker.
Republican congressman Vance McAllister is trying to make up to Louisiana voters for getting too close to a married former employee.
You may not like all of “it,” but U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, unlike many of her colleagues, isn't sitting around twiddling her thumbs in Congress.
Saints safety Kenny Vaccaro says he "can't wait" to play against Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
The heat keeps rising for Iberia Parish Sheriff Louis Ackal as a new slate of corruption allegations surfaced this week.
If opposing defenses sell out to stop the Packers' passing game, they risk being gashed by powerful running back Eddie Lacy, a New Orleans-area native.
At the horn the officiating crew trotted to the tunnel and left security personnel to clean up after them.
Friday's Blogs from the Bog!
Sign "ninjas" cleaning up clutter; NYC doctor positive for Ebola; Ferguson grand jury decision nears; and more national and international news for Friday, October 24, 2014.
We can safely assume incumbent Chief K.P. Gibson isn’t too worried about this challenger.
Nationally, Republicans must gain six seats to win Senate control. The most competitive races, many in states where Obama lost in 2012, remain too close to call.
The Baton Rouge Republican has repeatedly battled a perception within his own party that he perhaps wasn't the best choice to carry the GOP banner.
Even if Jimmy Graham's production dips while the star tight end recovers from a shoulder injury, it looks like Drew Brees won't have much trouble finding other targets.
A former campaign manager for Senate candidate Rob Maness is striking at the Republican contender's tea party support, saying Maness only sought to appeal to conservative organizations because he needed money for his campaign.
Ninety-two percent of public school teachers were rated either effective or highly effective in a report the state issued marking the second year of a new statewide evaluation process.
School board members Mark Babineaux, Hunter Beasley and Tehmi Chassion can vote to fire Cooper — because we all know that’s exactly what they’ll do.
District 2 school board candidate Simon Mahan is hoping to unseat first-term incumbent and former Carencro Mayor Tommy Angelle in the Nov. 4 election.
District Attorney Mike Harson is showing his desperation by falsely attributing quotes to his opponent and blocking journalists from his social media.
The governor is traveling the country laying the groundwork for a possible 2016 presidential campaign, but his approval ratings at home hover well below 50 percent.
State District Judge Bob Downing extended the order and delayed a planned Wednesday hearing about a permanent injunction while negotiations continue between Attorney General Buddy Caldwell and the waste disposal site operator.
New Louisiana higher education commissioner Joseph Rallo will be paid more than his predecessor.
Elijah McGuire and Alonzo Harris each had four rushing touchdowns, and Louisiana-Lafayette rolled to 419 yards on the ground in a 55-40 victory over Arkansas State on Tuesday night.
Bill and Hillary Clinton are the validators-in-chief for Democrats struggling through a bleak campaign season in states where President Barack Obama is deeply unpopular.