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Monday, May 18, 2020

Back to Our Roots

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Farmers’ Markets are Back!

Venues re-open with the freshest and best of our area

For weeks, you’ve wanted “a sense of normalcy.”

Well, there are few things more “normal” than going to a 34-year-old event.

The Shreveport Farmers’ Market – which has been held every year since 1986 – opens May 30 at Downtown Festival Plaza. You will be able to buy fresh fruits and vegetables — among many other things – each Saturday through Aug. 29, from 8 a.m.-1 p.m.

“I think people are definitely looking forward to getting some fresh produce that they haven’t been able to find in the grocery stores recently,” said market manager Emerie Gentry. “Meats are kind of hard to find, and those will be readily available.”

But while the market is a summer Saturday ritual for many of you, this year’s visits will look a little different than what you are used to seeing. There won’t be any music to enjoy, no place to sit down and eat, and no arousing your taste buds with samples of goodies.

All in the name of health, considering the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We have reconfigured our space so that we are adhering to social distancing guidelines provided by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention),” Gentry said. “We are asking that everyone wear masks, of course. We have added hand-washing and hand-sanitizing stations to the market area. If you are sick or not feeling well, or maybe at a high-risk, please think before you come. We are telling all of our vendors and staff to maintain good personal hygiene. Keep your hands washed and sanitized. Keep your areas sanitized.”

While you may have been looking forward to this year’s market, you are not the only one. Area vendors (within 150 miles of Shreveport) have been preparing their goods for sale – sales they desperately need.

“We have 75 vendors who have been waiting to get out there and see their regular customers,” Gentry said. “This is their way of life. This is how they make a living. We definitely want to support them and support the community as a healthy way of living.”

In addition to fruits, vegetables and meats, you will be able to take home eggs, cheese, honey, jams, jellies, breads, salsa, fudges, nuts, candies, baked goods, plants, flowers, and — new this year — elderberries.

You can also pick up a hot food plate to take home (remember, no seating provided). Gentry said there will be shrimp and grits bowls, fried green tomatoes, barbecue, tamales and vegan sushi.

And if you have SNAP food stamps or Senior Nutrition Program vouchers, you can use those to pay for what you buy at the market. Gentry says that is especially important this year, with so many people unemployed.

“A lot of people think, ‘Oh, the Farmers’ Market is so expensive,’” Gentry said. “But we have ways to help our community stay healthy by accepting the food stamps.”

Across the river – in the Pierre Bossier Mall parking lot at 2950 East Texas Street — the Bossier City Farmers Market has been up and running since April 28. In the first three weeks, it was a “drive-thru” market. You stayed in your car, let a vendor know when you saw something you wanted, and the vendor would bring it to you. Now, because some public gathering restrictions have been relaxed, the market looks more like what you are used to.

More like, but not exactly like. “The vendors will continue to wear masks,” said Chris Graham, the market’s manager. “We will have our walkways and pathways wider, so our customers and everyone can stay six feet apart. We will have more space between vendor booths and things like that, so everybody has an opportunity to practice social distancing. We will also have several outdoor hand-washing stations throughout the market, so customers, if they wish, and vendors can wash their hands to keep them as clean as possible.”

Graham said 1,000 cars came through on opening day, with close to 700 cars the following two weekends. He expects bigger crowds — and more vendors — as the market season continues.

Those vendors are selling fresh fruits and seasonal vegetables, honey, jams, jellies, baked goods, breads, pies, cookies and handmade soap. All are grown, or made, within 100 miles of Bossier City.

Parking and admission are free at both the Shreveport and Bossier City markets.

For more information on the Shreveport Farmers’ Market, you may visit www.redriverrevel.com/shreveport-farmers-market.

For more information on the Bossier City Farmers Market, you may visit www.BossierCityFarmersMarket.com.

James Anderson of Anderson’s Produce & Plant Farm is ready for market. Anderson provides a large variety of locally grown produce, including peaches, tomatoes, squash and many other vine-ripened offerings.

Jeff Lynn of the Lynn Family Farm in Cavett (just outside of Belcher), La., farms 15 acres of produce and vegetables for market. They also have much larger acreage where they produce only corn.

Courtney McCurry Sr. of McCurry Produce in Jefferson, Texas, will return to market this year with his always in-demand selection of fruits, vegetables and jam.



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