As the proprietor of a local wine shop, Jon Smith has a lot of experience with the fruit of the vine, but lately he has been spending a good bit of his time with many other types of fruit -- plus vegetables, seafood, meat and the occasional bag of kettle corn.
Smith is the founder and organizer of the Mid-City Green Market, the farmers market that celebrates its one-year anniversary today, April 16, in the parking lot outside the American Can apartment building.
Before Hurricane Katrina, the nonprofit MarketUmbrella.org ran one of its three Crescent City Farmers Markets at the same spot each Thursday. While the group's Uptown and Warehouse District markets reopened after the disaster, the Mid-City market was put on hold indefinitely.
Smith owns Cork & Bottle Fine Wines, which is located in the American Can building. The farmers market was always good for business before the storm, but Smith says his motivation for starting the Mid-City Green Market last year had more to do with reviving a community tradition and gathering place, one he believes is especially important as the neighborhood continues to rebuild.
He approached MarketUmbrella.org with a proposal to open a new market using their model and found the group was eager to help him get it off the ground. That fits with MarketUmbrella.org's own mission to mentor other markets. They helped draft the Mid-City market's organizational structure and assisted with health code compliance and promotions.
When the management of the Crescent City Farmers Market pledged to help us, I knew we could bring the market back," Smith says. "I'm not inventing something new, I'm just rekindling what was here and wants to come back here."
Many of the same farmers, fishers and other vendors who sold their goods at the Thursday market here before Katrina have returned to its new incarnation in the past year, and so have many of their pre-storm customers. And the addition of a wine bar a few steps away from the market (a smart place called Clever, another Smith venture), has only made making market groceries more enjoyable.
The Mid-City Green Market is held each Thursday from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.