By Karl Wiggers, Louisiana Farm Bureau Federation
For most folks, it’s a fun way to spend a Saturday morning—browsing through the vegetables, meats and sometimes crafts at their local farmer’s markets.
However, it’s more than just a fun day, it’s a serious business that brings in more than $9 billion to the U.S. economy each year. That’s why the USDA has designated this week as National Farmer’s Market Week and here in Louisiana, it’s vital for both farmers and consumers alike.
Kacie Luckett, a farmer just north of Baton Rouge, sells Luckett Farms produce at the Red Stick Farmer’s Market every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. For her, it’s more than just retail—it’s a chance to connect with her community.
“The farmers’ markets are a good outlet for farmers to sell their produce, and they’re also good for the consumer,” Luckett said. “The consumers can talk to the farmers while they’re at the farmers market and see what varieties they’re growing and how to use it and cook with it. Just interact with your farmer, that’s a good chance for you to talk to them there.”
Luckett said that connection forms whether people are familiar with farming or not.
“A lot of our customers will come to us and they will tell us, ‘My grandpa used to grow this white squash and I haven’t seen it since, and this is what we used to do with it,’” Luckett said. Also, you can share your recipes and try, you know, to kind of share your stories. So it’s also good for the community, it is a sense of community. We have people that come out every week to the farmers’ market and they’re kind of like our friends now because they come visit us every week.”
While it isn’t open every day, according to Luckett, farmer’s markets are cheaper for better quality food.
“There is definitely a higher quality of the produce that you get at the farmers’ market,” she said. “Usually it’s picked the night before or that morning, day before. Also, there’s not really much of a carbon footprint there. So it’s good because our food is only traveling 20 minutes to the farmers’ market versus the food that travels around the world from California or wherever.”
More than 50 farmers are members of the Red Stick Farmer’s market and Luckett said they work to create a family-friendly atmosphere.
“It is a community event,” Luckett said. “At the Red Stick Market we have face painting, and we have music and you can have breakfast—and it’s kind of like a social event, it’s always a fun Saturday. You are supporting your local farmers, your local family farms. It’s good for the economy. It’s good for the community. It’s fun for the family.”