For those local citizens who have longed for a true farmer’s market on this side of the lake, take heart: the Camellia City Market opened in Slidell’s Griffith Park Saturday, April 26th .
“This has been a dream of mine forever,” said Mary Dubuisson of STARC Cleaners. “I’m just beside myself that it’s finally happening.”
Here are pictures from the first Farmer's Market. Surprisingly, no produce was there:
There were fresh herbs,
Wonderful Mediterranean food
Tasty Italian fare...
and live music...
I think it was a great turnout and look forward to seeing this Saturday morning market grow and thrive, especially since Katrina took Slidell's only outlet for fresh produce and dairy products, Cap's.
After nearly three years, I don't think Cap's will be opening up, despite the
promises of this sign.
Here's the background of the birth of this market:
Mary Dubuisson was one of a group of interested residents who first approached Slidell Mayor Ben Morris in 2002 with a plan for starting the market. The idea never quite materialized, however, and various circumstances forced it into limbo for a while.
Then that same group of people turned up in Leadership Northshore 2008. Sponsored by the East St. Tammany Chamber of Commerce, the program divides participants into several small committees, each of which is required to stage an event that has an impact on the community.
The mission of the market made it a natural fit.
“We want it to be an economic stimulus for Olde Towne, but also to generate revenue for the city at large,” said Capt. Kevin Foltz of the Slidell Police Department. “We also intend at some point to donate our profits back to charitable organizations in the community.”
The group’s main issues are mental health and prevention of childhood obesity, which is one reason the park, with its playground and gym equipment, ties in well with that theme. Eventually they hope to add senior citizens’ issues to the program, and Dubuisson is working on getting discount vouchers for seniors to use at the market.
Foltz said they don’t know how long it may take to start realizing enough profit to make regular donations, but at some point the group expects to have a grant application process in hand.
As for potential economic impact, Foltz cited research showing that more than 80 percent of those who shop at outdoor markets also spend money in the surrounding area. That’s a statistic that should be music to the ears of many established Olde Towne businesses, as well as those that are new or returning, such as the Victorian Tea Room on Carey Street.
In order to be a true farmer’s market, only homegrown or home-produced consumables may be sold.
“It can’t be something like birdhouses,” said Foltz. “But say someone has a great recipe for spaghetti sauce that they make and bottle themselves, or grows their own flowers and vegetables, those things are perfect.”
At last count, 12 vendors had signed up for the market, with at least half a dozen more in the application process. Booths are $20 per week for a 12-foot by 12-foot booth. By paying in advance for four weeks, vendors can also receive a discounted price of $15 per week. A table and two chairs will be provided, but vendors are encouraged to bring their own canopy.
Modeling the project after the Crescent City Farmer’s Market in New Orleans, the group is also looking for local chefs and entertainers to participate. Volunteers are also needed to sell cold drinks and coffee and to staff the information booth.
The project has the full backing of the Slidell City Council, which awarded a $5,000 grant last fall toward the market’s startup. Many others have stepped forward to contribute, such as Creative Trophy, which donated nametags to the group.
Other members of the group are David Achary, Cheri Webster, Julie Watson, Michelle Partridge, Ann Mannella, Dana Fatic and Dinah Dyer.
Dubuisson noted the level of support and cooperation from the community that the project has received.
“Whether they own property in Olde Towne or they just like to spend time down there, people are excited about this because they understand that now is the time to work together,” she said.
Webster agreed and cited what has become an unofficial motto for the group.
“All these things are happening because people are working together,” said Webster, executive director of the Mental Health Association of St. Tammany. “It can’t happen by one person working alone.”
The market will be open each Saturday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., and an official grand opening and ribbon cutting is set for June 7. For more information call 640-8291.