Growing momentum: Hollygrove Market turns three



The sign sums up the mission at Hollygrove

Lately the name Hollygrove has been turning up on menus at more and more New Orleans restaurants, where it’s practically become a byword for locally-sourced food.

It refers, of course, to Hollygrove Market and Farm, which is an urban farm in its own right, a market for other small-scale farmers and artisan food producers around the area, an education center and a hub for the local food movement.

The increasing frequency of such menu shout-outs to Hollygrove are just one sign of its impressive growth. October marks the group’s third anniversary, and in that short span it has developed a thriving network of restaurant clients and a distribution system that includes five weekly locations around town, as well as door-to-door delivery of market boxes.

A weekly market box from Hollygrove

“It’s really grown in these three years beyond our wildest expectations,” says general manager Paul Baricos. “That has a lot to do with our partners and our volunteers, because we couldn’t do it on our own.”

This Saturday, during its regular weekly market at Hollygrove headquarters from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., the group and its supporters will celebrate its birthday with a party including live music, farm tours and lots of food. A collection of local vendors will be on hand, Baricos says, including many serving vegan fare. There will also be a cookout where more carnivorous customers can sample grilled goat, with meat provided by Ryals Goat Dairy, a favorite at local farmers markets. The party is free and open to the public, while prepared foods and the normal market haul will be available for sale.

NOLA Food Swap

Another upcoming event at Hollygrove also promises to showcase the growing momentum in the New Orleans local food scene, and it sounds like a delicious showcase at that.

Next Saturday, Oct. 29, the market will host the NOLA Food Swap, a monthly event where people show off and trade foods they’ve harvested themselves or made with their own hands. Those who sign up to participate bring at least five items (or portions, as the case may be), display them on tables and then get down to trying sample sizes of others’ items to decide which would make a best swap for their goods.

“It can be just about anything, as long as it’s made by you and from scratch,” says event organizer Molly Reeder.

Some of the spread at a recent NOLA Food Swap

At past events, people have brought duck eggs, herbed ricotta, pecan butter, pickled carrots and daikon radishes, bacon cured with blueberry syrup, lavender cookie dough, granola, berry galettes and ginger beer.

Reeder started the local swap a few months ago, inspired by similar events in New York, and she held the first few at the Uptown location of La Divina Gelateria, where she works as pastry chef. La Divina buys much of its produce for salads, sandwiches and even ice creams from Hollygrove, so Reeler thought the market would make a good site for NOLA Food Swap as the event has grown.

People who participate get more than just the swapped items they score, Reeder says. They also get to meet like-minded local food enthusiasts, trade tips and techniques and find inspiration for what else they can grow in their gardens or make in their kitchens.

“New Orleans is such a great city to do this,” she says. “We have so much to be proud of here with our food culture, and this is a great way to show it off.”

More items at a recent NOLA Food Swap

This upcoming NOLA Food Swap coincides with the Oct. 29 market day at Hollygrove, so participants can arrive as early as 10 a.m., while the actual swapping begins at 1:30 p.m.

Registration is free, and you can sign up and find more details online.

Hollygrove Anniversary Party
Oct. 22, 10 am-2 pm
Hollygrove Market & Farm
8301 Olive St., New Orleans

NOLA Food Swap
Oct. 29, 1:30 p.m.
Hollygrove Market & Farm
8301 Olive St., New Orleans

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