Full circle for farmers market

Just as cycles of growth and rebirth set the pace down on the farm, a farmers market in Mid-City has recently come full circle, and hopes are high that it will bear new fruit.

Before Hurricane Katrina, the Crescent City Farmers Market held one of its three weekly markets outside the American Can apartment building each Thursday afternoon. While the group’s Uptown and Warehouse District markets reopened after Katrina, this Mid-City market was put on hold indefinitely.

But Jon Smith, proprietor of Cork & Bottle wine shop in the American Can building, decided to open his own farmers market on the same site. With the blessings of CCFM and plenty of technical support from its staff, he launched the Mid-City Green Market in April 2008.

Crowds attending the original farmers market were always good for the wine shop’s business, but Smith says his motivation for starting the Green Market was more about reviving a community tradition and gathering place – one he believed was especially important as the area rebuilt after the levee failures.

“Opening this market was one of the most gratifying things I’ve ever done,” says Smith. “These markets are real communities of people. I learned how the money gets spread around within them and how much work the farmers put into it, what it takes to make a living from agriculture. I saw the economic impact of even the smallest market.”

Many of the vendors who sold goods at the same site before Katrina became part of the Green Market, but Smith says he knew he couldn’t properly grow the market on his own. He approached CCFM, and soon they struck a deal handing the Mid-City market back to its original, pre-Katrina operator.

“We’d been talking for a while about opening a third market and when Jon approa-ched us it was just perfect timing,” says Emery Van Hook, director of markets for CCFM. “It’s a great area and a great time, in that after-work, after-school timeframe in the afternoon and early evening, and we can open up the market to many more people.”

The change means CCFM can apply its greater resources and robust programming to the Mid-City slot. For instance, CCFM will accept food stamp payments and other assistance programs that are making farmers markets increasingly accessible to more residents.

As before, the CCFM’s Mid-City market is held each Thursday, from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. at 3700 Orleans Ave. For details, see www.crescentcityfarmersmarket.org.


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