Aug. 18, 2015 12:40 AM

Molly Richard

After two years shepherding the Lafayette Farmers and Artisans Market into local prominence at the Horse Farm, market manager Molly Richard has stepped down. Market president Mark Hernandez will fold her in to his role, creating a market director position that accommodates both job descriptions. Jan Wyatt will operate as the newly minted chairman of the board.

Much of Hernandez’s mandate is to continue the impressive momentum established by Richard in her time as manager. Hernandez himself was part of the committee that interviewed and hired Richard, and says that she’ll be missed. According to Hernandez, Richard was integral in the early growth of the market, securing its current weekly offering of 60 or more vendors.

“She’s brought great energy to the market and we’re looking to harness that momentum,” says Hernandez.

Moving forward, Hernandez hopes to emphasize outreach to rural growers and amateur green-thumbs to address the growing demand for farm-raised produce at the market. Workshops, classes and meetings happening at the Horse Farm this fall will hopefully address a short fall of supply by demonstrating the relative ease of bringing product to public sale in the context of a farmer’s market.

Hernandez, a grower himself, says a primary obstacle for growers looking transition from personal food cultivation to the farmer’s market is a lack of information and knowhow, an issue he thinks can be addressed from his position as market director.

“It’s not as intimidating as it seems,” he says. “Jump in and get your feet wet. It’s a pretty forgiving process.”

As for Richard, she’ll remain in Lafayette for the time being and relishes her time spent at the Farmer’s Market.

“It’s been an awesome two years. I’m just ready to pass the torch,” she says.

As we move into fall, Louisiana’s most productive growing season, expect more produce coming to markets at the Saturday Horse Farm edition and the mid-week market Downtown. The market will also roll out a Friends of the Farmer’s Market program some time in the fall, that will keep members up to date with market developments and offer donation-level perks and incentives.

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