Every Saturday morning, Lafayette area residents have two important stops to make on their early errands. That’s because Lafayette’s two major weekly farmers’ markets act as the anchor for both the Hub City’s culinary scene as well as its slow food movement practitioners. The two weekly events are both vibrant and festive, and bring together food lovers from Lafayette and many surrounding parishes.
The Hub City Farmers Market, founded by Gotreaux Family Farms in Scott, Louisiana, offers a profusion of natural and organically grown foods. The Gotreauxs—Brian, Dawn, and their children—ambitiously raise tilapia, chickens (meat birds and laying hens), turkeys, lamb, and amazingly eccentric varieties of fruits and vegetables. While not a certified organic farm, which involves a long and costly process, they instead raise and grow their food using organic principles and no chemical pesticides, trusting the customer to know their farmer and the growing methods employed. The animals are pasture raised yielding incredibly flavorful meat and eggs, and the fruits and vegetables are grown using organic techniques with flavor and nutrient density, not yield, in mind. They grow some of the best food that money can buy in south Louisiana. The Gotreauxs host the market in Lafayette’s Oil Center and the other stalls are filled with like-minded growers and producers, offering customers a wider variety of good and good-for-you foods.
Near the center of town, Moncus Park at the Horse Farm, which is under development, hosts Lafayette’s Farmers and Artisans Market on site. Set under beautiful oak trees near the farm’s old barn, this much larger market averages about 30 to 40 vendors from a rotating cast of over 70 registered participants. The market is registered as a festival with the State of Louisiana, allowing a greater array of vendors, even including hot food prepared on-site and often made from the wares of the producers. There is a weekly Cajun jam session, with an ad-hoc group of musicians of all ages, and the result is not unlike a Saturday morning party, with shopping.
Many local chefs can be spotted roving from booth to booth, sourcing ingredients for menu items and hyper-seasonal specials. It’s a great opportunity for them to spend time with their peers and regular customers alike. It’s a very refreshing experience allowing both recovery from Friday night’s service and preparation for Saturday night.
Many vendors are from out of town, including the ever popular Ruston peaches selling through the end of August, and Lake Charles’ Santa Rita Honey Bee Farm with their raw honey and associated products. Inglewood Farm from near Alexandria is there regularly with their manicured bundles of organic fruits, vegetables, and pecans. Overall, a large portion of Louisiana’s agriculture is represented.
Depending on the season, If you want the best produce available, visit both markets and start early. It’s a unique opportunity to interact with those who grow your food, and in Lafayette, you don’t just shop, you pass a good time, too.