German Coast Farmers’ Market
From corn and rice to shrimp and spice, the German Coast Farmers’ Market has it all.
The market is going on its eighth year offering fresh, local options to shoppers in the St. Charles area. And there is no better time than now to start shopping locally because Creole Tomatoes are finally in season. Several types of squash, lettuce, beans, onions, berries, free-range eggs and Alabama peaches are also currently available at the market.
George “Papa George” Borne has been a vendor at the market since it first opened for business. Borne’s business is pork sausage and hog’s head cheese, but he also sells butter beans and ready-made shrimp and crawfish dishes. The 79-year-old Hahnville man has been in the cooking business his entire life and said that the market is a great place to sell because of the friendliness of customers and other vendors.
“I’m not a chef, but I’ve been doing this for 50 years,” Borne said, laughing. “I take pride in what I’m doing and this is a great place to do it.”
Cynthia Portera has also had a booth at the Destrehan market since it opened eight years ago.
“We’ve been here since day one – we just really enjoy the market,” Portera said.
Her booth is part of her Destrehan business, “Portera’s Panetteria” and sells everything from Muffuleta and brownies to home-made marshmallows and Italian bread. Portera’s father was a Sicilian emigrant who also taught Portera to make the traditional Sicilian cookies that she sells.
Rene’ Schmit, County Agent with the LSU AgCenter, said that the market locations on the East and West Banks provide a valuable social gathering place and promote local agriculture.
“The markets connect people with agriculture,” Schmit said. “It provides support to our farming community, and that’s important because the farming tradition has been prevalent for many generations along the German Coast.
“These markets have some of the best vegetable growers in the area and the quality they provide is a value in itself. It’s a win-win for everyone.”
Ann Montgomery, a member of the market board, said that the tradition of farming on the German Coast was vital to the success of southern Louisiana.
“If it hadn’t been for the Germans, settlers in New Orleans wouldn’t have succeeded – Germans fed the French,” Montgomery said. “Without them, the French would have starved to death.
“The current farmers at the market are probably direct descendants from those original farmers.”
Another board member, Fran Friedman, said that the food available at the market is the freshest and best-tasting in town.
“It’s incredible to see how far we’ve come in the last eight years,” Friedman said.
The market does not only offer traditional local products, but it is also a great place to learn about what you eat.
Charles Campbell sells locally-grown rice and takes the time to explain to customers how it is grown and refined.
“So many people eat rice and don’t know how it grows,” Campbell said.
While his rice farm is in Gueydan, Campbell only sells his rice at the German Coast market.
Jannett Cancella also takes the time to explain her product to passers-by at the market.
Cancella sells honey at the market that she collects from her own 100-hive bee farm. She said that in a good year, she can collect up to 300 gallons of honey.
She got started selling her honey at the German Coast market and has never regretted the decision.
She and her husband started harvesting honey under the direction of Master Beekeeper James Polk. When Polk passed away, he left his massive bee hives to the Cancellas.
“Now we are in the bee business,” Cancella said.
While handing out samples of her local honey, Cancella also describes to people her bee removal services. She also does demonstrations on how to get honey at the market during special events.
“We get involved to teach the youth about the importance of bees,” Cancella said. “Without our honeybees, we don’t eat.”
For now, Cancella said she has been as busy as a bee providing honey to St. Charles Parish and safely removing unwanted bees from homes and businesses. Parishioners can look for Cancella’s bee demonstration at the upcoming anniversary celebration.
The East Bank market location will be kicking off its 8th anniversary with a bang on June 11 with performances by an accordion player, door prizes, wood carving demonstrations, pony rides, Master Gardeners and the Tastes of the Season.
The market is open regularly on the East Bank at Ormond Plantation from 8 a.m.-noon on Saturdays and on the West Bank at the St. Charles Plaza in Luling from 3-6:30 p.m. on Wednesdays. For more on the market, visit www.germancoastfarmersmarket.org.