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New Farmers Market Brings Fresh Produce Back to Historic French Market

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Nina Feldman
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WWNO
Visitors shop for fresh produce at the French Market's new weekly Wednesday farmers' market.

On Wednesday afternoon, the Crescent City Farmers’ Market opened in the historic French Market. This is the fourth weekly market that Crescent City Farmers Market operates citywide — but the French Quarter location makes this one different than the rest.

The French Market in New Orleans has been running since 1791. For a couple of centuries, it provided the French Quarter and local community with fresh meats and produce.

But in the 1940s and 50s, as grocery stores started popping up around town, the market had to adjust. It sold more wholesale goods. In the 70s and 80s, as people sprawled out into the suburbs, the market sold even less produce. For the past 10 years, The French Market has felt more like a mall than a market, specializing in souvenirs and specialty items for tourists.

John Smith, Executive Director for the French Market Corporation, says America’s oldest open air market hasn’t had any fresh produce since 2005. Smith says he’s excited to be teamed up with the Crescent City Farmers Market to bring the French Market back to its roots. His group has advertised the new market to tourists and local chefs, while Crescent City Farmers Market focused on the needs of neighborhood residents.

Kate Parker, director of Market Umbrella, which runs the farmers markets, says they did extensive market research.

“We looked at, okay, so what are the things that people want?” Parker said. “And locals said they wanted produce first and foremost, and tourists said they wanted grab and go items. So we were able to adjust our market schematics to make sure that we have both of those.”

Vendors seem excited about the overlap in clientele — all 28 available booths have been filled. Aloma Savastano and her husband Kenneth run A & K Citrus in Braithwaite, LA. They sell satsumas and other citrus at all four of the Crescent City farmers markets, but are excited about the newest location.

“It’s a different crowd, and it is a crowd,” Savastano says.

The new market runs every Wednesday, from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.