Barcelo Gardens is on a mission to bring fresh produce to food desert areas!
In a city known for food, there are a surprising number of food deserts in New Orleans. Finding fresh fruits and vegetables in some areas can be incredibly challenging. Barcelo Gardens Farmers Market is on a mission to fix that. To learn more about Ashley’s mission and Barcelo Gardens Farmers Market, visit the GoFundMe page and listen to her interview on GoFundMe’s podcast, True Stories of Good People.
“Not just fresh food, but veggies and fruits grown either at our garden or from family farms that are local, within 100 miles of here,” said Ashley Webb, who owns Barcelo Gardens with her husband, Andy Barcelo. “Post Katrina, some of the smaller supermarkets in areas like the 9th Ward were closed down, and not much has come back.”
Fresh vegetables and produce, however, are only the beginning for Barcelo Farms. Though the focus is fresh food, Barcelo Gardens Family Market welcomes prepared foods and crafts as well.
Currently Barcelo Gardens has three markets around the 9th Ward and Gentilly. “The goal of our business is to provide healthy, locally sourced food options for food-scarce areas, within the city and without, around Louisiana,” said Barcelo, the former president of the Edgewood Park Neighborhood Association.
They sell produce from their gardens and from partner farms in the area, like Carona Farms and Cryer Family Farms in Independence. “We’ve been trying to make an effort to support Black-owned farmers specifically because of their lack of support in historical contexts,” Barcelo said.
The market welcomes vendors selling vegetables, sweets, herbs, fresh lemonade, handmade candles and more. Webb said she sometimes finds vendors and contacts them directly, while sometimes others reach out to her first.
“We’re always looking for more vendors,” Webb added, sitting at Gentilly Market with their young son. They sat before a table heaped with fractal-shaped Romanesco broccoli, lush bunches of mustard greens, sweet-smelling strawberries, small peppers, large bunches of green onions and bottles of their homemade lemonade.
Events at the markets include neighborhood clean ups, gardening classes, and cooking classes to encourage people to eat more veggies. With a free children’s gardening class from 11 a.m. to noon on Saturday, April 23, at the garden location, 2301 Gallier St.
The first Sunday of the month in Gentilly at Tip Top Snowballs, 3317 Franklin ave, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The second and fourth Saturday at the current Barcelo Gardens location, 2301 Gallier St.
The third Saturday of the month at the future Fresh Market location, 3440 Piety St. This location, once built, will be open several times a week with different vendors and fresh food options.
Expanding outside of New Orleans, Barcelo Gardens is pleased to serve the Napoleonville community twice a month with a farmer’s market, also assisting with access to fresh food.
The couple was granted a zoning change to develop a lot they own on Piety Street into a market with regular hours. They are building structures to support a more regular marketplace, while having no plans on moving their monthly Gentilly market at the Tip Top Snowball location at 3317 Franklin Avenue.
“The McCormick family has been very supportive and helpful, letting us use the Tip Top Snowball location and donating the use of the space there. We are filling a real big demand for fresh food that folks don’t have access to like other parts of the city do,” Barcelo said.
When Barcelo and Webb applied for the zoning change for their Piety Street lot, they also successfully lobbied to expand the permitted use on land designated as a Suburban Business District (SB-1) to allow for “public market” space. This could allow for other urban growers to have such markets around New Orleans.
“It could make a big difference throughout the city,” Barcelo said. Meanwhile, the pair has been pleased with the Gentilly market’s success.
“[The market] has been really growing. Each month since the hurricane [Ida] it’s been bigger and more successful,” Webb said.
The Gentilly Farmers Market is open on the first Sunday of every month from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 3317 Franklin Ave. The second and fourth Saturday at the current Barcelo Gardens location, 2301 Gallier St. The third Saturday of the month at the future Fresh Market location, 3440 Piety St.
For information, see the Barcelo Gardens website or visit their Facebook page. To learn more about the mission and support the effort, visit the GoFundMe page and listen to Ashley’s interview on GoFundMe’s podcast, True Stories of Good People.