By ROBIN SHANNON
LAPLACE – St. John the Baptist Parish is now a step closer to construction of a proposed farmers market on the west bank in Wallace, as funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture is expected to be released to the parish later this month.
St. John Economic Development Director Torri Buckles updated the parish council on the progress of the market at Tuesday’s meeting in LaPlace. She said the USDA grant will cover most of the construction costs for the market, which will be located on a three-acre tract of land at the foot of the Veterans Memorial Bridge.
Buckles told the council that a chain-link fence has been installed around the perimeter of the area needed for the market in accordance with the cooperative endeavor agreement with the state Department of Transportation and Development, which owns the land. She also said lighting, drainage culverts and a limestone driveway have been installed and added that the USDA has completed its site inspection.
The market will be housed in a 4,800 square-foot metal building that will have space for 10 16-by-14-foot open air stalls that local growers will be able to drive into with their vehicles. The front of the building will face Louisiana Highway 18 with an access road at the western end of the land. The parish spent about $46,000 to acquire the pre-fabricated building pieces for the market, which are now in storage waiting for construction.
Buckles also announced a series of dates for informational meetings and other necessary training opportunities for interested farmers and sellers. She said the parish will hold an informational meeting with prospective vendors and the LSU AgCenter on April 25 to discuss policies and procedures.
She said May 25 is the deadline for interested vendors to apply for a permit.
The parish will also hold two technical training opportunities for vendors on June 14 and June 18. For more information, contact the Economic Development office at 985-652-9569.
The parish could not give an estimated completion date for the market until the construction funding from USDA was acquired. The market is expected to take four months to complete.