louisiana seasons

by Brooke Pizani

For the majority of the world, there are four seasons: Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall. For Louisiana, it may seem we skip winter or have an extended summer, but we identify our seasons by what each change of the weather means to us. Ask a native of South Louisianan what the four seasons are and they may answer:

Mardi Gras, Crawfish, Sno-ball and Football.

Winter Carnival season starts on January 6th, The Feast of the Epiphany, and lasts through Fat Tuesday, also known as Mardi Gras. People wait all year to celebrate what makes Louisiana unique from the rest of the country. King cakes and beads can be found on every street. People schedule their days around parades and tend to drink as much as they eat. Nobody else can say they had off of school for Mardi Gras! Everywhere else, it’s just a Tuesday, but in South Louisiana is a holiday that is highly anticipated.

Spring During crawfish season, pots are filled with seafood, boiling water, spicy seasoning, and anything else Cajuns see fit. Crawfish are bought fresh by the sack and shared among family and friends. Everybody comes casual and leaves full with the smell of crawfish lasting on their skin for hours after. The Catholic season of Lent, which starts on Ash Wednesday, the day after Mardi Gras, asks for practicing Catholics to abstain from meat on every Friday until Easter Sunday.

Summer Sno-ball season beats the summer heat for many Louisianans of all ages. It’s called a sno-ball never a sno-cone or shaved ice; those don’t exist in Southern Louisiana. Sno-balls are sold at stands on the side of the road and are just too much of a temptation for people to pass up. There is no dress code required and people are often seen in swim wear and flip flops while they take a break from summer activities such as fishing. When the sno- ball is first served it can be eaten with a spoon, but one minute in the Louisiana sun turns it into an icy liquid that you drink with a straw. Sno-balls are served in a Styrofoam cup and flavored with sweet syrups in hundreds of flavors that leave your tongue stained.

Fall And last but certainly not least, football season. Also known as tailgating season. Bars and restaurants will be just as packed as churches on a Sunday from roughly August to January. Both college football on Saturdays, and professional football on Sundays will bring together family and friends. Food and football go hand in hand especially if the Tigers or Saints are having a good season. From potluck style football parties to parking lot BBQs fans stay full to cheer on their favorite team.

by Andetrie Vicks

Rienzi Market is more than just a place to buy fresh produce, it’s a place that gives back — the local bounty — to the community.

“There is something special about going to the market and buying fresh food that has been grown by members of the community you live in,” says Kimber Ratcliff, the Rienzi Market coordinator.

Located behind the Thibodaux Civic Center on Rienzi Drive Extension at the St. Francis Vegetable Garden, the market got its start in 2015 as part of the St. Francis Vegetable Garden’s mission to educate and give the community access to fresh, local foods. The market originally was open for eight weeks in the spring and fall at peak growing seasons, but vendors and the community wanted more. And as of this spring, the market is now open year round from 3:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Thursdays, making it convenient for the public to shop for items after work and/or school.

Depending on the growing season, the market features citrus, eggs, mushrooms, sprouts, carrots, lettuce, shallots, kale, Swiss chard, honey, chicken, crabs, vegetable plants (for the planter working on their own garden), jams, jellies, pickles, all grown and produced by the farmers themselves. Coming in a few weeks are fresh caught, local crawfish, crabs and shrimp. There is even an Alaskan native who now lives in Houma, who fishes in Alaska and then brings wild Alaskan salmon to the market.

“All your grocery shopping can be done in one spot and it is more affordable,” Ratcliff says.

There is always a crowd of community members at the market buying their produce and meats fresh from the growers/producers. No matter the weather the shoppers still show up because as Ratcliff says, “they value what our farmers can produce.”

Many farmers develop relationships with the community members, even the children. Some of them sit on the trucks with the farmers talking to them while their parents shop, and everyone is invited to walk through the garden to see what’s growing. The setting is an open field with each vendor showcasing their wares on either a table or the back of their truck. Being out in the open field, there’s a sense of openness and freedom that’s separates it drastically from a regular trip to the grocery store.

There is no selection process for the farmers/producers. The only requirement is that the farmers grow their own crops, or fishermen catch their own seafood and they are welcome to come and sell their goods at the market. There is no requirement to grow using any particular method or soil, either. Farmers can use whatever growing method works best for them including organic, natural (meaning they don’t use any chemicals, not certified organic), greenhouse, hydroponic, and conventional. Consumers are welcome to talk to the farmers about their growing practices and the products they have for sale.

For more information on the vendors and their goods go to the market’s website at http://rienzimarket.com/.

And, a Ratcliff says, the market will remain open as long as the vendors show up to sell their products. It’s a way of letting the community know that there are local farmers who need local support in order to remain in the farming business. So stop by, have a chat and buy some produce!

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By Claire LeBeouf

“Don’t forget your bag of groceries!”

“Y’all go pick some oranges.”

“I picked that from my garden this morning.”

Locally grown. These are all things you will hear in South Louisiana when it comes to local food. It is common down south to grow produce and sell it, but it is more common to give it away to friends, family, and neighbors. Citrus trees line people’s back yards with branches of juicy fruit begging to be picked. Fresh cucumbers and tomatoes are plucked straight from the vine and eaten with salt and pepper. Plastic grocery bags are the universal way to transport produce from house to house.

Janet Tauzin, a grandmother of four, enjoys passing down this South Louisiana tradition.

“I know my grandkids love when we send them home with fruits and vegetables that I get from my neighbor’s garden,” Tauzin says.

In spring, lemon trees are in full bloom just in time for crawfish season. Homegrown lemons go perfectly with all the fixings that go into the boiling pot. People put in hours of hard work in their gardens planting, pruning, and picking. But they are willing to let others try what they have grown year after year. Now that’s southern hospitality, Cajun recycling and good eating!

by Claire LeBeouf

Greg Malbrough and his wife Heather took on the challenge to run Mossy Ridge Farm, but they never expected it would become a full-time job.

With two generations of farmers behind them, the Malbroughs inherited a passion for farming. Now this third-generation farm located in Houma is one of the most successful in the area. From growing to producing different types of fresh foods ranging from micro greens, eggs, and shiitake mushrooms, Mossy Ridge is a busy place. The Marlboroughs also tend to pastured hens and pasture-raised chickens. An important aspect of maintaining the farm is keeping the quality of their food consistent for their customers. This is essential to the Mossy Ridge owners, and so is a strong work ethic.

“The most important part of having a farm is developing the skill sets to make it all work,” Greg says. “In one day you will do plumbing, mechanical work, butchering, sales call, deliveries and veterinary work.”

The ability to multitask goes hand in hand with being a “Jack of all Trades” businessman like Greg. His hard work and dedication to the growth of the local food and produce market is what makes his business successful.

With the to-do list a mile long, it comes as no surprise that the inspiration behind opening Mossy Ridge was to offer consumers in the area a choice of what kind of food they eat, which is no easy task. But, when the Malbroughs saw a need in the market for local, fresh food they knew they could be the ones to fulfill it. Being a third generation farming business, they knew they had the knowledge and the tools to make Mossy Ridge a local success.

  • Fresh Shitake Mushrooms

“When you call the farm you will be talking to the person who grew the food you eat,” Greg says. “I am the grower, the distributor and the retailer.”

He and his wife believe that Mossy Ridge, and other markets and farms like it, are more than just about supporting local businesses, but more importantly about the health of our community.

“It’s good for you, the consumer, to know who you are buying from, to know what you are putting in your body and to know that you’re getting the best quality that a local source can provide because if they don’t provide the best they can, they will not be in business long,” Greg says.

From sourcing to growing, producing and distributing, Mossy Ridges does it all. The Malbroughs are all natural and all in.

“We were raised back in the days when you ate what you grew and if you took care of your land it would take care of you. We truly want to bring back those core values to the family that we’re raising and hopefully to future generations,” Greg says. “And we thank our fathers, grandfathers, and uncles for being such an inspiration for what we have and will accomplish on Mossy Ridge Farm.”

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