Re10th Anniversary at the Crescent City Farmers Market
(New Orleans)—Organizers of the Loyola University-based farmers market organization invite shoppers, chefs, and vendor alumni to join them for a morning of festive farmers market fun on Saturday, September 30, 2006.
The Birthday Party:
What: Crescent City Farmers Market tenth eleventh birthday celebration
When: Saturday, September 30, 2006, 8 a.m. – noon, rain or shine
Where: 700 Magazine Street, at the corner of Girod Street
8 a.m.: Opening bell (536th opening ringing)
9 a.m.: Slicing of the cakes (for 10th and 11th birthdays)
10 a.m.: Chef Leah Chase to prepare Creole comfort food
11 a.m.: Vespa Club of New Orleans to depart from the Market to transport to newly reopened Commander’s Palace. At the kitchen door, riders will toast the return of the grand institution.
All morning long: Wild Tchoupitoulas Mardi Gras Indians to perform.
On the same date in 1995, co-founders John Abjaian, Sharon Litwin and Richard McCarthy launched the deliciously old-fashioned social enterprise on the William B. Reily corporate parking lot, adorned with the often-photographed mural painted by Lafayette’s Dafford Brothers. They did so with a roster of one dozen farmers, bakers, and culinary risk-takers at a time when citizens in and near the city feared crime downtown.
Despite these concerns, the Crescent City Farmers Market flourished first as the Green Market. That is, until the New York City markets threatened lawsuits due to service mark infringement. After much hoopla, name change contest, and a growing roster of farmers, fishers, and chefs, the Market grew to four-days per week and as epicenter of entrepreneurial innovation. In its first decade, the organizers helped to replicate its simple, low-overhead model for economic development in Baton Rouge (as the Red Stick Farmers Market) and beyond. In 2002, they led a civil society delegation to the United Nations World Summit on Sustainable Development in South Africa.
On Saturday, August 27, 2005, market staffers Richard McCarthy and Darlene Wolnik were at the Saturday Market mapping out plans for autumn 2005: Saturday Market’s tenth anniversary and Loyola University Economics Institute’s reorganization and rebranding as marketumbrella.org. Plans were interrupted by the anxious talk of a little known storm that had just entered the Gulf of Mexico — Katrina. Commercial fisher Kay Brandhurst of St. Bernard was sharing her indigenous knowledge about weather and high seas with shoppers. And shoppers began quickly picking up foodstuffs for long car rides. By 11 a.m., the Market’s closing bell rang early in a rare interruption of commerce. For the Farmers Market community, this was the last gasp of normal for many months. Farmers and fishers who harvest cultivated and wild products in the storm’s path, their lives would never be the same. The Tuesday Market reopened November 22, 2005 just in time for Thanksgiving and with a healthy roster of 25 plus vendors. The Saturday Market reopened in March 2006 with nearly the same number it opened with originally, reflecting the loss of many of its Plaquemines and St. Bernard vendors.
On this anniversary date, the Saturday Market invites members of the culinary diaspora to return home to the mother of all markets in the region. While the family of Crescent City Farmers Markets is half of its pre-storm size of four, co-founder Richard McCarthy explains, “Give it time; we now have twice the verve.”
The Crescent City Farmers Market is free and open to the public. An economic development project of Loyola University New Orleans, its mission is to initiate and promote the ecology of local economies: Markets, Mobilize, Mentor, Model. For more information, visit http://marketumbrella.org/ or call 504-861-5898.
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