We all want kids to eat their fruits and veggies, and Central Louisiana’s farmers markets are making it a little easier to ensure they do. Kids Club is a program that provides children with wooden tokens that are redeemable for fresh produce – at no cost to the families. Through various funders or sponsors, Kids Club was originally tested in Natchitoches and Leesville in 2015, and it is currently available at the Alexandria Farmers Market (Tuesdays) and the Natchitoches Farmers Market (Saturdays).
Beginning on Tuesday, June 6th, Kids Club will also be available at the Olla Town Square Market and the brand new Natchitoches Mobile Market. A Healthy Behaviors Program Grant from The Rapides Foundation will fund Kids Club at these new locations, where participants can receive $10 each in tokens every week (while supplies last). The program will increase access to fresh produce for children while introducing them to a variety of healthy foods and allowing them to do their own shopping.
Natchitoches’ Market Coordinator, Valerie Balthazar, is excited for the program to expand. “Kids Club is great at our Saturday market, and we are thrilled to bring it into other neighborhoods through our Mobile Market. We will reach families who might not usually buy fresh produce. Kids Club can change that.”
Kids Club is also good for farmers. Providing the tokens means market customers have more money to spend, and more sales will help markets thrive. Visit the new Kids Club markets at the following locations and times:
· Natchitoches Mobile Market; Tuesdays from 3:30-5:30 at Pearson-Mallet Park (701 East Fifth St.) and Thursdays from 3:30-5:50pm at Ben Johnson Park (1616 MLK Jr. Dr.)
· Olla Town Square Market; Tuesdays at 4:00pm at the Farmers Market & Courtyard in Downtown Olla
As farmers work to come into compliance with the Food and Drug Administration, Food Safety Modernization Act’s (FSMA) Produce Safety Rule (PSR), the FDA has announced they will be reviewing the complexity of the existing rule regarding to microbial quality standards for agricultural water (including irrigation water that comes into contact with produce). The FDA is considering how it might simplify the water standards, and that amounts to great news for farmers!
Additionally, the USDA has provided Harmonized GAP checklists for farmers interested in pursuing USDA Good Agricultural Practices Certification. These harmonized checklists incorporate the most up-to-date PSR information available from the FDA. These resources support farmers in their work to create on-farm practices that verify that fruits and vegetables are produced, packed, handled, and stored in the safest manner possible to minimize the risks of microbial food safety hazards. More information can be found at: https://www.fda.gov/Food/GuidanceRegulation/FSMA/default.htm and https://www.ams.usda.gov/services/auditing/gap-ghp/harmonized
To stay up to date with the latest news about the Produce Safety Rule and Harmonized GAP, sign up for the Produce Safety Alliance newsletter at: producesafetyalliance.cornell.edu
This is your chance to join Central Louisiana’s growing farm-to-school movement. As a result of a Healthy Behaviors Program Grant from The Rapides Foundation, CLEDA is seeking a fourth Central Louisiana school to begin implementing Harvest of the Month (HOM) this September.
Harvest of the Month is designed to link schools with produce grown in Louisiana. CLEDA works to connect your HOM program to produce that is grown as close to your community as possible. Fresh, flavorful, and good for the economy too, HOM links local food and farms to local families through your school food service program.
Louisiana’s first HOM first began in 2015, and was piloted at Alexandria’s North Bayou Rapides Elementary School. Since then, the program has been implemented at Bunkie’s St. Anthony School and LaSalle Parish School District.
You can learn more about Harvest of the Month, and apply for the free program, FreshCentral.org.
· Central Louisiana Farmers Market Development Taskforce meeting; Wednesday, May 31st from 10:30am to 11:30am at CLEDA; email firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more
· Kids Club Kick-off; Tuesday, June 6th in Natchitoches and Olla; email email@example.com to learn more and implement Kids Club at your market
· Central Louisiana Food Policy Council meeting; Monday, June 12th; email firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more and get involved
· Central Louisiana Farm-to-School Taskforce meeting; Tuesday, June 20th from 10:00am to 11:00am at CLEDA; email email@example.com to learn more
1. Spend just $5 each week at a local farm.
2. Support local businesses that support local farmers.
3. Apply to become a member of the Central Louisiana Local Foods Regional Working Group.
4. Host an Eat Local discussion in your parish or community.
5. Follow us on facebook
6. Email firstname.lastname@example.org with questions and suggestions.
7. Learn more at freshcentral.org.
Do you consider yourself a maker? Then make sure to register for Central Louisiana’s first-ever Makers Map. The map showcases the diversity of makers in Central Louisiana, from visual artists and authors to welders and fabricators; yet the map also highlights the contributions that farmers are making to the region’s Makers Movement.
In fact, two producers from Hornbeck, in Vernon Parish, highlight their farms as places where they make good stuff. “We hope our example of growing quality produce will inspire the next generation of makers, particularly women, to get involved in the local food movement,” says Patti Manes of From the Ground Farm.
From the Ground joins Lavender Farms LLC, as the second Hornbeck farm listed on the region’s Makers Map. Lavender Farms is currently working with LSU to gain a certification as an agritourism venue, a unique distinction for a producer.
With Hornbeck setting the curve, more farmers are asked to join the Central Louisiana Makers Map. By being listed on the map, farmers will be staking their claim as some of the most innovative makers in the region. You can register yourself or even nominate other makers, at www.cenlamakers.com or by clicking here.