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Grow NOLA Farmer's Market Helps Small Business Shine in New Orleans East
This group of entrepreneurs and small businesses is working to build a sense of positive community spirit in New Orleans East
May 28, 2022 - At the corner of Bullard Ave. and Morrison Rd., children blow bubbles and line up to throw gliders through a hoop. Nearby, a small grouping of brightly colored canopies provides much-needed shade for local entrepreneurs selling home-grown vegetables, homemade pickles and preserves, spice mixes, t-shirts, beauty products, and freshly cut flowers.
This is GrowNOLA, a farmer’s market held on the second and fourth Saturday of each month. According to Pastor Jon Kehl of Crown of Life Church, the market is meant to help build a sense of community and positivity in New Orleans East. GrowNOLA is low-barrier and flexible - there is currently no cost to come out and set up as a vendor, and “cottage” businesses are welcome to come set up as well. The only rule of the market is no resale - products need to be something that the vendors make themselves.
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“The small businesses are basically pop-ups right now, but supporting what’s going on in New Orleans East,” Kehl said. “What we’re trying to create is an environment where people are comfortable coming out.”
That makes the market the perfect opportunity for young entrepreneurs like 13-year-old Tyrell Shortridge, creator of Ty On Ya Mind seasoning mix and 6-year-old Daenerys, whose family runs D’s Lemonade Stand and Barcelo Garden, a community garden in the Ninth Ward.
Vendors vary from month to month, but this week’s participants also included Marlene’s Boutique, Mike’s Micro Greens, author and entrepreneur Naomi Scherelle Daugherty, KOKA Kids, and Momma D’s. Later in the day, visitors could also enjoy boiled crawfish and seafood.
GrowNOLA makes an effort to create a family-friendly space, with children’s activities such as gliders, hula-hoops, bubbles, and more. “The idea is to maybe each time have a STEM activity for kids, so they’re gonna be learning stuff while having fun. Parents can leave their kids to run in the grass while they walk around and shop,” Kehl said.
Since the market it small, it’s not getting much attention yet. Getting the word out so that more vendors and shoppers show up has been a challenge.
“The hardest part is getting people to pay attention and to know that there are good things happening, especially since we get so little positive media attention. So what we’re trying to do is get the word out to as many people as possible through marketing fliers, Instagram, Facebook…but the challenge is still there.”
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ReportNOLA is the sole creation of Jennsen Bentley - a local, independent journalist who is dedicated to serving the community of New Orleans. As a proud member of the Society of Professional Journalists, he is dedicated to ethical reporting on issues that matter.