In The News › French Market Corp. to restore weekly fresh-food farmers’ market

May 21, 2014

Source: | The Times-Picayune

Filed under: Economic Development, Orleans Parish

French Market Corp. to restore weekly fresh-food farmers’ market

By Katherine Sayre | The Times-Picayune

May 21, 2014

The French Market Corp. has partnered with local nonprofit Market Umbrella to restore a weekly farmers’ fresh-food sale in the French Quarter’s historic open-air market with hopes of cultivating stronger daily offerings, officials said Wednesday.

Jon Smith, French Market Corp. executive director, made the announcement Wednesday morning (May 21) to business and community leaders at a briefing organized by the Bureau of Governmental Research downtown.

Market Umbrella oversees the Crescent City Farmers Market, which operates weekly in Uptown, downtown and in Mid-City.The two organizations are partnering under a cooperative endeavor agreement.

Kathryn Parker, executive director of Market Umbrella/Crescent City Farmers Market, said in an email that her group is “thrilled to reintroduce shopping for fresh and local food to another generation of New Orleanians.”

“Residents and tourists alike will be able to buy affordable fresh seasonal produce, seafood and other local products in a space that was meant for this purpose since its inception,” Parker said. “Like our other markets across the city, this location will be a gathering space for residents and tourists to celebrate our rich local food traditions.”

Smith said the overarching vision is for the 200-year-old market to become a produce and fresh-food destination again, similar to the popularity of Seattle’s Pike Place Market.

The weekly farmers’ market, expected to begin in October, will feature about 25 vendors, he said. Food artisans, such as bakers or pasta-makers, can use space to practice and sell their craft.

“We’re going to give them an incubation area so they can market and grow their businesses,” Smith said.

Smith was hired as the French Market’s leader in September. At the time, he cited bringing back fresh produce and seafood as a top goal. He also criticized some of the types and quality of merchandise being sold at the flea market. His comments at the time stirred complaints among existing vendors.

The experts with Market Umbrella will mentor and train the French Market, which could later take over the operations independently, Smith said.

French Market Corp., a public benefit corporation, operates the area known as the farmers’ market, along with the Upper Pontalba Building, Washington Artillery Park, Dutch Alley, Latrobe Park, the flea market, the French Market parking lot, the farmers market parking lot and the annex parking lot.

It attracts 6.4 million visitors annually and generates $30 million in sales, according to previous city estimates.

The two groups launched a weekly farmers market in the French Market in 2004, but it never returned after Hurricane Katrina, Smith said.

At the time, neither organization had the marketing and promotion resources to support the effort, he said.

“It wasn’t the type of market that was going to be the impetus for change that we anticipate this market being,” Smith said.

Now, the French Market Corp. has marketing staff to reach out to visitors, locals and neighborhood groups, he said.

Market Umbrella will determine the best day and time for the market after studying the current and potential customer base, officials said.

Smith said his organization expects to see $85,000 in annual new revenues from vendor rentals and increased parking, although he anticipates the larger economic impact to be greater.

May 21, 2014

Source: | The Times-Picayune

Filed under: Economic Development, Orleans Parish

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