Community garden provides fresh produce for Natchitoches area. Farmers Market moves to riverbank

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Did you know the City has multiple community gardens? A 5-acre garden at the DC boasts over 900 varieties of tomato plants, peppers, beans, and other fruits and veggies.

From seed to your table, the produce harvested from the community garden is sold at the Farmers Market and Mobile Market.

“We want to help the community eat healthier,” said Valerie Balthazar, Farmers Market Coordinator.

DC inmates work in the large garden. Members from the community such as Natchitoches Parish 4-H, NSU’s Alpha Beta Phi fraternity, and the local FFA Chapter are also involved.

“The gardens started through a grant from the Rapides Foundation,” said Mayor Lee Posey. “We wanted to work toward a healthier community through exercise and diet. Fresh produce is a part of that. It’s important to teach the younger generations about healthy eating options and fresh produce.”

4-H Foundation Board member Johnny Broussard quickly became involved with the Community Garden.

Johnny is no stranger to farming. He lived with his father, Mr. Bruce, on the Northwestern State University campus for about 20 years and helped him run a 500 acre farm and dairy.

This is its first year in operation. The plan is to eventually involve 4-H members in the grading process so they can gain hands-on experience and help as the gardens develop and expand.

4-H members sell the harvested produce at the community table at the Farmers Market. This is a great way to generate money for 4-H programs as they get to keep a percentage of their sales.

REMINDER: The Farmers Market will be located on the downtown riverbank from June 9 – July 28.

SCHEDULE:

June 9: “The Chicken Or The Egg”

Backyard Chicken Raising Demo
Kids make their own aprons for cooking
English Muffin Egg Pizza tasting
June 16: “My Dad Rocks”

Fruit & Veggie and BBQ Demo
Kids make presents for Dad using rocks
*Trash to Treasures*
**4-H Day

June 23: “Sock It To Me”

Sock Doll Demo by Gena Wagley
Fruit & Veggie skewer tasting
Natchitoches Parish Library Book-Mobile on site
June 30: “Farmers’ Market 2nd Annual Corn Easting Contest”

Corn-on-the-cob Eating Contest
Kids make watermelon pizzas to celebrate Independence Day

July 7: “Blending For Health”

Food Demo
Natchitoches Parish 4-H bike blender on site
Author: TBA
**4-H Day

July 14: “You Rock My World”

Food Demo
Kids make garden markers out of rocks
Book-Mobile on site

July 21: “Farmers On The Bricks”

Farm Animal Demo- Get up close with heifers, goats, pigs, and a milking cow
7-layer dip tasting
*Trash to Treasures

July 28: “Mini Makers Fair”

Mini Makers Fair- Youth ages 5-14 will sell their produce, baked goods, and Arts&Crafts
Deviled egg and veggie dip tasting

*Trash to Treasures events are a new feature of the Farmers Market which will include repurposed and refurbished items, DIY projects, handcrafted items, shabby chic and architectural finds, as well as any antiques you’ve come to enjoy in the Historic District. Trash to Treasures will be held once a month, located on Trudeau Street. To participate contact Valerie Balthazar at 318-663-5190.

**4-H Days feature Natchitoches Parish 4-Hers who will man the community table, which features locally grown produce. A percentage of what these students sell will go back to their 4-H clubs for future programming.

The Farmers Market offers $5 in free Kids Club Tokens each Saturday for the first 50 children ages 2-13. These tokens can be spent on fresh fruits and vegetables! The market also accepts cash, credit, debit, and SNAP.

For more information call (318) 238-4211 or go online to http://readysetgonatchitoches.com. Find the Natchitoches Farmers Market on Facebook @ Natchitoches Farmers Market.

This project is funded through a Healthy Behaviors Program Grant from The Rapides Foundation. The Healthy Behaviors Program Grant funds projects which have a focus on healthy eating, active living, or prevention of tobacco use, substance or alcohol abuse. To learn more about grant funding from The Rapides Foundation, visit www.rapidesfoundation.org, and click on “Grants.”