Whether you’re a goat farmer from East Feliciana or soap maker from West Feliciana, common ground can be found at the weekly St. Francisville Farmers Market, where the locally grown produce and goods for sale are as diverse as the people selling them.
“We all aim to provide the freshest and best,” said market director Jimmy Hadden, who has been a regular at the market for about 11 years.
Hadden says by featuring items such as his hydroponic bibb lettuce along with homemade salad dressings and other organically grown vegetable and herb plants, he’s supplying what people want.
“I grow my bibb lettuce in a greenhouse, adding nutrients and water every day. Who doesn’t want to buy the best produce possible and locally when they can?”
The St. Francisville Farmers Market has been around for as long as Hadden can recall.
“How long has this market been here?” Hadden calls out to Buddy Metz, his neighboring vendor.
Metz, who was born and raised in St. Francisville, comes from a long line of Metz ancestors, and has been selling his produce at the farmers market for the better part of 15 years. Collard greens, cucumbers, kale, tomatoes, cookies — Brownie Mounds and Molasses Zingers made by his daughter are top sellers — as well as jams and jellies made by his wife. And something called Swamp Pickles.
“They’re a family recipe. I can’t tell you exactly what’s in them, but everyone that buys them, loves them,” said Metz, whose great-grandfather was a West Feliciana farmer.
“Although the season is just getting started, I look forward to experimenting with different things, selling different things. Usually, I’ve got tomatoes, but today, I’ve sold out,” Metz said.
Besides Metz and Hadden, Will Plettinger, of Lobdell Farms in Weyanoke, and Jerry Landrum, of Solitude, are both regular market vendors who are serious about the quality of vegetables and items they sell.
Landrum, a former truck driver who has assisted in getting the farmers markets in Denham Springs and in Baton Rouge up and running, says he’s had a good year with his crops so far.
“We’ve had adequate rainfall and good temperatures, which has given us some early-producing crops that wouldn’t have produced until about mid-June,” Landrum said. “Sometimes, we can look forward to help from some of the LSU AgCenter folks when they come out for farm visits.”
Some of the LSU professors will come to his farm, while he goes to theirs.
“It’s an exchange of best farming practices, which also helps us with the different varieties of tomatoes such as the Sun Leaper, like I’ve got right here,” Landrum says, pointing to a nearby box of hearty, plump tomatoes.
As a customer approached asking for kale, Angela, Landrum’s wife, sent the potential business toward Metz. “I’m sorry, but we’re out. Try Buddy down there.”
“We’re all here for the same reason, to provide the best in good, locally grown produce,” Landrum said.
Cindy McDonald, of McDonald Farms in Clinton, drew a nice crowd at the market with her homemade goat cheeses in a variety of flavors with spices she purchases from the Red Stick Farmers Market.
McDonald’s bestselling flavor is Gone to Heaven, a sweet-tasting spread that packs some heat thanks to the chipotle and honey, which she also purchases locally.
Laura Efinger, of St. Francisville, said she stops in regularly for the fresh produce and for the goat cheese. “I love it.”
McDonald also features fresh goat’s milk and eggs.
Claude Wilson, of Ethel, another East Feliciana Parish farmer, sells his honey, jams and jellies on a regular basis, and though she’s relatively new to the farmers market family, Anna Macedo is no stranger to St. Francisville.
The West Feliciana resident and graphic design artist is now a self-proclaimed soap diva with her new venture, Bon Savon (good soap).
Macedo began making and selling her uniquely packaged handmade soaps in August through her company, Bon Savon, of which she is the founder and CEO.
“They’re tried and true with no harsh detergents or chemicals, made with all-natural ingredients and are plant- or vegetable-based with essential oils,” Macedo said. “It’s like cooking but without the calories.”
Macedo makes the soaps in small batches, including one called Swamp Water, which she says rids the hands of that “boiled seafood smell.”
The St. Francisville Market is open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. every Thursday on Wilcox Street under the barn and requires a $50 annual fee to become a vendor, which Hadden says can be paid in $10 increments.
Other regularly featured market items include homemade fudge and baked sweet breads in a variety of flavors, shiitake and sorrel mushrooms, bread and butter pickles, heirloom tomatoes, onions, snap beans, new potatoes, sweet potatoes, celery, micro-greens, dried herbs such as basil, bay leaves, paprika and rosemary as well as fresh herbs, alfalfa sprouts and more.
Visit the St. Francisville Farmers Market on Facebook for information.