For Henri and Kevin Moore, the farmer's market is a labor of love.
For Henri and Kevin Moore, the farmer's market is a labor of love. By Tyler F. Thigpen
Wednesday, Sept. 3, 2014
Farmer's markets have grown in vendor and consumer attendance over the past few years and have thus become a one-stop shop for many foods, household items and sundries. Finished foods such as salads, tamales and take-and-bake meals, and ingredients like sauces, herbs, breads, juices, eggs and dairy, produce and meats are commonly sold at markets. Interspersed with foods, one might find soaps, candles, pottery, artwork and more at any of the four Lafayette markets (Acadiana Farmers Market on Dulles/Foreman, Freetown Farmer's Market on Convent, Hub City Farmer's Market in the Oil Center, or Lafayette Farmers and Artisans Market at the Horse Farm). Some local foods purists may even be spotted making the rounds on Saturday morning, visiting more than one market in order to get shopping list items from disjunct vendors (and to avoid a visit to a conventional store).
Increased market attendance is resulting in the surfacing of more specialty, artisanal products than ever before. Henri's at the Horse Farm Market is a locally owned business that vends baked goods (among other edible and non-edibles), allowing community members to add cookies, brownies, focaccia, bagels, soft pretzels, loaves of breads, cakes, cheese ribbons (which, by the way, were featured on the Martha Stewart Show) and more to their farmer's market grocery list.
"I started my business around 1985," says Henri Moore, owner/creator/operator of Henri's. "Lafayette had a city-wide garage sale in that high rise parking garage downtown. My friend that now owns Brown Bag Bakery and I got a wild hair and said, Let's bake a bunch of stuff and make a little money this weekend.' In one day we made $500 and people started asking us for our phone numbers and wanted us to make more, and that's really how it all began."
Henri and her husband Kevin, both born and raised in New Orleans and UL Lafayette alumni, met in Lafayette in 1984. Around 1997, Kevin - Henri's husband of 26 years - left his 25-year IT career and joined the operation.
After years of primarily running the business from their Saint Streets home, the Moores began vending regularly at the Cottage Shoppe on E. Broussard Road and spent their Saturdays selling there for five years. In 2011, Henri and Kevin joined Freetown Farmer's Market on the corner of Johnston Street Downtown. They followed the market when it relocated to Convent Street and vended at that location until August 2013 when Henri's moved to the Horse Farm Market where Henri and Kevin can now be found selling their wares on Wednesday nights and Saturday mornings. In addition to baked goods, shoppers will find hand-painted aprons, knitted and crocheted goods and other finished textiles at the Henri's tent.
"I enjoy the sense of community - it's more personal - and I like interacting with the community when we're selling our goods at the market," says Kevin, who accompanies Henri to the market twice a week. "It's good to talk with the people buying your product and get positive feedback from them. I like seeing the same happy people selling and buying at the market each week."
Staying with the fresh and local theme found throughout the Lafayette market scene, Henri and Kevin use local honey from Santa Rita Honey Bee Farm and herbs and produce from Up to Grow Good, Helping Hands Farm, Mary Mary Markets and others. Along with their passion for food, the Moores spearhead a neighborhood movement to spay and neuter feral cats. When they aren't at the market, baking or working to improve Lafayette's feral cat problem, the Moores are in New Orleans caring for Kevin's 94-year-old mother. No doubt, the couple is passionate and caring - two traits common in the Lafayette slow foods scene.
"At the end of the market, it's like a free-for-all of vendors trading," says Henri. "David from Helping Hands Farms traded me 10 pounds of eggplant for some focaccia last week. I was so excited. The market is great; it's a lot of work. I haven't slept a Friday night since we started Saturday markets years ago. We have wonderful customers, and I work hard to create enough items to keep them happy and returning to us. Lovely relationships have been formed through flour, sugar and butter. And what's better is that my dear mama was the one that got my sister and me in the kitchen at a very young age. I'm still using her icing recipe to this day."
Tyler F. Thigpen is a wetland ecologist, past president of Acadiana Food Circle (www.AcadianaFoodCircle.org) and co-coordinator of Pig & Plough Suppers, a slow foods dinner series celebrating our Louisiana foodways by promoting chef collaborations that feature foods grown and raised in South Louisiana.