Patterson farmers' market, garden put in motion

PATTERSON — The first official steps toward a farmers’ market and community garden in the city were taken Tuesday night.

Ground already has been broken on the Wheelbarrow Farmers’ Market at 1103 First St., where the 12 or 13 stalls measuring 10 feet by 12 feet will be ready to sell fall vegetables.

Dr. Edward James Valeau, a Patterson native and California resident, is readying the family property with electrical outlets, water hookups and cover. From there, sales of fruits, vegetables and plants can be made, but wild game cannot be sold. Those selling produce are tax exempt; however, sales of seafood are not.

Valeau’s father was a farmer. As a child, he was sent with a wheelbarrow to sell his father’s goods. Now a college professor, he believes in both the power of education and in “giving back from whence he came,” Mayor Rodney Grogan said.

On days the market is open, shoppers will be able to receive educational pamphlets and information as to how to prepare nutritional meals as well as have their blood pressure and blood sugar checked.

An ordinance requires those peddling their wares within the city limits to pay a $200 occupational license, unless they are selling seafood, in which case the cost is $100. The city may have to amend the ordinance to reflect no charge at the farmers’ market.

On a related note, two resolutions setting up a community garden next door to the Jessie Hayes Boat Landing were approved Tuesday.

It will take about one year to get the land completely ready for planting, but once it is, city leaders envision sections dedicated to groups within the community such as the housing authority, elderly and school children. The 1.8 acre of land is shared with the parish council for the boat landing. It is unclear how the garden will work with unencumbered passage for the boat landing.

The garden will feature a composting area and green earth initiatives such as battery or solar methods for moving water from the bayou to the garden for watering crops, Grogan said.

The resolutions passed Tuesday allowed for the necessary intergovernmental agreements with the parish council and school board as well as naming a section of the property “Claire’s Garden” in honor of the late Councilman Claire Sawyer.

The food raised in the community garden will be eligible to be sold at the farmers’ market.

In other action, the council:

—Approved an ordinance to incur debt of $5 million in general obligation bonds, and approved an ordinance levying a public improvement tax millage of 12.41 mills for payment of the bonds. Both items are associated with the water treatment plant project. While on the books a year ago, the millage was not assessed.

—Approved an ordinance to levy 8.20 mills of general alimony tax for 2012. This is down from the introduced amount of 8.29 mills in May.

—Approved a request for a Class A and C liquor license at 305 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave., for Lawrence J. Johnson. Formerly Back in the Day, the establishment will now be called L.J. Café.

—Introduced an ordinance authorizing the sale by auction of property adjudicated to the city after the owners failed to pay liens.

—Heard a request from Police Chief Patrick LaSalle to create an ordinance requiring businesses selling alcohol to have Microsoft media compatible cameras placed at the front door, back door and parking lot. Each would be required to keep the film for 60 days and turn it over to the police department upon request. The cost to each establishment, whether convenience store or club, would be $650-$800, he said. The chief added that while he would like to start with alcohol vendors, he would eventually like to expand to all businesses in the city.

—Announced the Patterson Community Fair and Festival will be held June 21-24 on the grounds of Patterson Junior High School’s football field, 1101 First St.

—Learned the Catherine Street sidewalk project is almost complete and is ready to be used by residents. Also, the water plant design continues and should be ready to break ground in December.

Councilmen Charles Sawyer and Joe Russo were absent.

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