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Farmer’s Market on Tower

By Katie Sloan
In Center Block
Jul 31st, 2017

On Tower Drive between CC’s Coffee House and Newk’s Eatery, a new Farmers Market has emerged for the Monroe community. It is the brainchild of Joe Holyfield, owner of Holyfield Construction, who has always loved those markets. Anywhere he travels, he goes to the local farmer’s market. A member of Ouachita Green, Holyfield is committed to making Monroe beautiful, focusing on this area, bringing attractions in for people to have somewhere to go locally. He is a citizen who wants to make his community a better place to live. He, along with Deidra Adair, put their heads together, did some research, and made the Farmer’s Market on Tower a reality. People in larger, urban areas are used to choices on the weekends, and there’s no reason the citizens of Monroe can’t enjoy those weekend options as well.

Farmers markets used to be all about produce, but the image is changing. They’re becoming more of a community affair with local food, music and artisans, people committed to healthy living, and of course, produce. But the Farmer’s Market on Tower is selective about what they introduce at their farmer’s market, which is what sets the one on Tower apart. They focus on offering quality products. Deidra, in her research, found out we had a Holistic Chamber of Commerce in West Monroe. She reached out to member Dana Milford, owner of For His Temple, and instantly found a group of people with the same vision of healthy living, the kind of people they wanted to be involved with the farmer’s market, those who focus on organic food, natural ingredients and overall healthy living. Deidra teamed up with The Holistic Chamber of Commerce president, Kristen Lambrecht to sponsor the farmer’s market, along with CC’s Coffee House, Newk’s Eatery, For His Temple and Holyfield Construction. Another goal was to drive traffic to this area on Tower on the weekends, something for the people in the surrounding neighborhoods to look forward to, close to home.

More and more people are coming to Monroe from bigger cities and are used to these types of activities. So when they get here, they long for it. And the longtime residents of Monroe yearn for it, too, they just may not have been aware of it. So many of us have traveled to various cities, attended local events and thought, “This would be great in Monroe.” All it takes is a few people saying, “We can have this; we do deserve this” to make it a reality.

Deidra knew that for her to drag her family out on a Saturday, the event needed to be family-friendly. The weekends are for family time, and so the events need to have something for everyone. There is a complimentary face painter every Saturday. The Children’s Museum hosts a complimentary craft each week for the kids – for Father’s Day weekend, the kids made mustaches on sticks to wear. The Children’s Coalition brings a reading corner and a craft on various weeks. Deidra particularly loves the setup of the market. It is situated on a roundabout, with all the vendors and booths set up in a circle; the kids stay contained and in sight. There are also big outdoor games like Connect Four and Jenga. In a few weeks, The Ouachita Valley Federal Credit Union and 98.3 will do the school supply drive. They’re also incorporating some nonprofit groups, like Ellen Hicks with the Humane Society. The Ouachita Community Connections came out one Saturday to introduce themselves. The Market serves as a platform to introduce these groups to the community. Brian Sivils provides the music each week, serving as the “pavilion band.” He incorporates music for both the kids and the adults, providing an inviting atmosphere. “Visitors can sit down, have a beignet or a crepe, a coffee from CC’s or a lemonade from Newk’s Eatery, and listen to the band. It’s not just about shopping.” Deidra knew to get the moms out to the market, the kids have to stay entertained. And so far, the mix of activities seems to be working.

The Kingsland Ranch is a staple at the Market every Saturday, and they bring their delicious beef for sample and/or purchase. Swamp and Sea gets their seafood that morning from the Gulf, bagging it up that morning and selling it, including shrimp and crab, etc.

Edible Zen Farms offers hydroponic lettuce and tomatoes. Swamp Fox Farms sell jams, jellies, duck eggs and chicken eggs. The Market hosts many of the local farmers. D’s Bees will bring their honey. Ms. Pettit serves her fried blueberry pies, produce, fresh eggs, doggie treats and her very own roux. Fiesta Nutrition hands out samples of their smoothies. Ruston Orchards at Indian Village Harvest Farms brings the peaches, watermelons and serves peach ice cream. Cory Bahr will make appearances serving boudin and his “sammiches.” Jeff Hicks brings his smoked cheeses, mozzarella, Colby Jack, cheddar, cream cheese and even offering toppings like raspberry jelly. Conrad Cable brings his fresh rosemary, mint and chanterelle mushrooms. Visitors can buy these goods without going to the grocery store. It shows kids the roots of the foods they eat. Deidra mentioned one of the vendors showed her kids how to shuck corn. It has been intriguing for her kids to see the produce and talk to the farmers. It’s an important cultural experience, especially for children. The vendors are both passionate and knowledgeable about their products. They’re very engrained in this way of life and anxious to share that passion with others. Master gardeners sell plants and even give away some. Some woodworkers will be coming soon and some bread bakers. The Market is constantly growing. Some vendors are committed to coming each week, and some rotate in and out. For now, the Market will continue throughout the summer, each Saturday from 8-12.

The Farmer’s Market on Tower is just another option of something to do in the community that also promotes the community and the talented people living in it. It’s a free event for the whole family. You can enjoy the music. You can do a craft, get your face painted. You don’t have to buy something; you can just look around and soak up the creative atmosphere close to home. We’re all so busy. It’s nice to have a place to go together as family and friends to see other families and friends. It puts the cultural diversity of our area on display. A lot of these talented farmers, artisans, creators, can go unnoticed. It establishes a connection for them with their community. The Market shows we can be mainstream when it comes to healthy living, organic options, etc. It’s so easy to get lost in the hustle and bustle of kids and jobs and practices. The Farmer’s Market encourages taking care of us. When we buy those fresh cucumbers and local meat, we want to do better for our families and ourselves. People are constantly getting more conscious of where their food is coming from. We’re picky about what we put in our mouths. And we should be. It’s our health. We want our food fresh. The Market’s motto is “Farm to Fork,” meaning you come here to the Market, you spend time with your family, you buy this fresh produce and beef, and then you go home and you enjoy it with your family. Joe Holyfield and Deidra love seeing visitors to the Market walk around with their kids and their bags of produce and know they are going to go home tonight and eat together. It makes them happy, knowing they’re giving back to their community by enriching the experience of its people. It’s an experience from the Market all the way back to their house and their kitchen table.