It’s been nine weeks since our partners at Ouachita Well helped launch the city of Monroe’s new Dowtown RiverMarket. And what a successful run it’s been! And now that it’s set to close for the season this Saturday (Dec. 15), we’re offering a word of congrats on their successful inaugural event.
The market was launched to encourage better eating habits among local residents, who live in neighborhoods lacking grocery stores and access to fresh produce.
“We felt there was a real need for fresh fruits and vegetables and we just needed another venue for that,” explained Pamela Barton, project director for Ouachita Well. “It serves south Monroe, which is economically depressed. And there’s just not that many grocery stores in the area. It’s down town, where there’s not a lot of retail at all, let alone grocery stores with fresh fruits and vegetables. So this has been a great alternative.”
The Downtown RiverMarket’s official website further explains the project’s goals:
–To provide fresh, quality food choices including produce and prepared foods.
–To provide small family farmers a venue to sell their goods.
–To provide education on healthy eating and making good food choices.
An astounding 9,000 locals attended the market’s official opening Oct. 13, with shoppers crowding around the vendors gathered along the Ouachita River in downtown Monroe. Offerings included locally grown produce, prepared foods, workshops, artisans and live entertainment every Saturday. The project is part of a series of healthy living initiatives Ouchita Well will help launch over the next three years in the Monroe area. The Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation is a major sponsor of Ouchita Well, partially funding the project thanks to a $1 million donation from our Challenge for a Healthier Louisiana grant program.
The response from the community has been overwhelming, averaging about 5,000 customers each week – a number that has far exceeded expectations from city officials (several vendors even report nearly selling out of everything from farm fresh foods to candied pecans before the market closes each afternoon).
“Every Saturday, the pavilion has been filled to capacity with vendors, so we’ve moved some of them to the parking lot,” RiverMarket manager Adrienne LaFrance recently told The News Star.
Added Pamela, “We’ve just had a really great turnout and we’ve been very, very pleased.”
Sounds like a smashing success to us! We can’t wait until the market opens again, later in 2013 (exact date to be announced – check the RiverMarket website for updates).