Thousands of people are expected to descend on the opening day of the Shreveport Farmers' Market. This year, 166 vendors will be set up in downtown’s Festival Plaza selling locally-grown produce, meat, honey, plants and artisan food products.
For the first time, the market will accept federal benefits commonly known as food stamps in an effort to connect low-income residents with fresh ingredients. Shreveport Farmers' Market manager Nola Fowler-Sandlin said shoppers can use their SNAP benefits that will be turned into tokens and accepted at many of the food booths.
“It’s a great thing because the downtown area is such a food desert, and for at least two days a week we can definitely help out with that," Fowler-Sandlin said.
The market has steadily grown over the past decade that Fowler-Sandlin has been involved with it, first as a vendor and now its manager. As farmers see demand rise for locally grown and organic produce, she said, they want in. But Fowler-Sandlin said the biggest benefit of a farmers' market is the eye-to-eye communication between the consumer and grower.
“The shoppers come in and say, Oh, do you grow this? And the farmer will say, Oh no, should I? And so it’s this wonderful symbiosis that’s happening down here. There’s just nothing better than being able to talk to the people that grew your food," Fowler-Sandlin said.
The market will be open Saturday, June 1, from 7 a.m. to noon. Saturday markets run through Aug. 31. On Tuesdays, a smaller market will be held from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. This year, a Food Row will feature dairy products, frozen vegetables, meats and food trucks.