In 1996, as part of Chris Campany’s Master’s thesis project, directed by Suzanne Turner, an LSU Landscape Architecture Professor, he solicited the participation of a select number of local farmers in the establishment of Baton Rouge’s first farmers’ market. The inaugural Red Stick Farmers Market took place in November 1996 in the parking lot of the Government building, which is situated on St. Louis Street in the central business district of Baton Rouge. This was the birRed Stick Farmers Marketthplace of the Red Stick Farmers’ Market. The same year that the Big River Economic and Agricultural Development Alliance (BREADA) was officially recognized, it became a 501(c)(3) non-profit company. It also began its work to increase economic opportunities for small farmers. BREADA is an acronym for the Big River Economic and Agricultural Development Alliance.
In 2002, BREADA was contacted with the idea of moving the farmers’ market to the intersection of 5th and Main Streets to develop a vibrant public marketplace for the residents of the downtown area. The Main Street Market was established in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, in collaboration with the Baton Rouge Area Foundation and the state of Louisiana. It is an incubator for small local companies and a meeting area for the surrounding community. Since that time, they have made it a priority to continue to broaden the scope of their outreach activities toward local small farmers and their community. They have established a mobile farmers market that serves communities with restricted access as part of these initiatives, incentives to assist low-income families in getting fresh food, and a kids club that instructs their youngest market patrons on how to live healthy lives.
The goal is to create a local food system that is robust and healthy; to improve the economic viability of autonomous local farmers, fishermen, and food producers; and to encourage responsible land and community stewardship via the establishment of public markets.
Small Farmer Support
In 2005, the Baton Rouge Area Foundation and the Louisiana Small Farm Survival Fund collaborated to create the Louisiana Small Farm Survival Fund to offer aid to Louisiana’s small farm and seafood businesses that natural catastrophes had harmed. After the extraordinary destruction caused by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, BREADA gathered more than $200,000 to offer emergency assistance payments to small family farmers throughout the state who had damaged their crops, equipment, and homes. Immediately after this, the funds will be transferred. It is practical. Since its inception, the fund has been instrumental in delivering essential assistance to farmers during natural calamities like hurricanes, floods, and fires. The fund provides direct service to locally based independent farmers and fishermen who, owing to the qualifying rules of the USDA, are often of a size that prevents them from receiving grants or loans.
Red Stick Farmers’ Market
Because Red Stick Farmers is an open-air market exclusive to producers, it can guarantee that all of the products sold there are cultivated locally by the respective farmers. During the busiest times of the year, they may run the Red Stick Farmers Market at as many as four different venues around the city once a week. In addition to fresh fruits and vegetables, meats, shellfish, artisan breads, homemade pies, honey, milk, and cheese, native plants, herbs, and specialized food items, more than fifty different farmers sell their wares at the Red Sick Farmers Market. Local farmers are given crucial economic possibilities via the markets, which help maintain their local food system’s health, strength, and vitality.
Coffee, breakfast, and lunch are served at the Main Street Market, which is open from Monday through Saturday and caters to locals, employees, and tourists in the downtown area. The Galvez garage offers validated parking throughout the week; validation may be obtained at the front desk. Customers may also use free internet while shopping at Main Street Market. The Main Street Market and the Red Stick Farmers Market come together every Saturday to form a neighborhood market that features culinary demos, artisan food goods, and cooked meals.
Red Stick Sprouts
Children aged 2 to 12 participate in educational and entertaining food-related activities at the farmers’ market that links them to local farmers and agriculture. These activities teach children where their food originates from. Any site of the Farmers Market offers a “kids club” where parents may register their children to participate. In addition to receiving two dollars’ worth of market tokens, children are also given a market tote bag. They are given an extra two dollars’ worth of market tokens and a kid-friendly recipe card each time they visit the market. Over 2900 children have participated in the Sprouts program and have gained the confidence to make their own decisions on the kinds of nutritious foods they consume.
Red Stick Rewards
Every one of the farmer’s markets can take SNAP (using the Louisiana Purchase card) and WIC Senior Nutrition Farmers Market vouchers. By matching customers’ purchases, the Red Stick Rewards program enables SNAP recipients to spend more of their benefits on fresh, nutritious food. The Rewards program offers the twin advantage of boosting access to fresh food for low-income people and generating more cash for small farmers. Both of these benefits are made possible thanks to the program. The Red Stick Rewards program has been made possible thanks to the kind support of Louisiana Healthcare Connections.
Nutrition Education and Outreach
The markets encourage customers to purchase fresh, locally grown produce by providing culinary demos, food tastings, and recipe cards at their locations. The Farmers’ Market hosts a culinary demonstration called “Fresh from the Market,” during which local chefs are invited to perform seasonal dishes and expose buyers to various goods available at the market. The culinary demonstration starts at 10 a.m. inside the dining area on North Street inside the Main Street Market.
From Farm to Table Top
The Farm to Table Tops initiative takes place every three years and offers essential assistance to help maintain and expand your market. It is an exciting multi-disciplinary summer experience that teaches children about the local food system in Louisiana and exposes them to their creative skills while also educating and introducing them to the children. The program includes a hands-on art education component, a hands-on cooking education component, an interactive farm tour, and an interactive nutrition education component. The hands-on art education component will create 50 artistically designed custom tables that will be displayed in the Main Street Market.
Visit their website or call (225) 267-5060 to learn more.