The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), which works to support rural America and the Nation’s agricultural sector, including farmers markets, recently spotlighted the Delcambre Seafood & Farmers Market for its accomplishments with grant money awarded by the AMS from 2016 to 2019.
In its Seeds of Success series, that highlights the accomplishments and lessons-learned from Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program (FMLFPP) grant recipients, the AMS cited the Delcambre Market as “an example to farmers markets around the country.”
Since first acquiring the Farmers Market Promotion Program (FMPP) grant from the AMS, the Twin Parish Port District in Delcambre has taken its Delcambre Seafood and Farmers Market to new levels of success.
The market used the grant award of $195,000 to develop marketing strategies and create targeted advertising, and to implement marketing materials and directional signage. The funds also allowed the Delcambre Market to recruit more vendors and provide market customers with family-friendly activities, live music, and monthly educational demonstrations including how to can fruit and milk a cow (with the recruitment of a local dairy cow.)
“We were able to capitalize on what we were known for – selling seafood off the boats – by adding value-added products and creating a farmers market,” says Wendell Verret, market director and head of the Twin Parish Port Commission.
The results? By the end of the three-year grant, in 2019, the market’s car counter was recording an average monthly attendance of 896 cars, figuring a customer attendance of over 2,000. The number of vendors was up to 60 (a number that was maintained until COVID-19 hit), and Verret says sales from producers and fishermen increased by a whopping 7,000 percent. That included the line of available frozen seafood products which expanded from four items to 20, and soon brought the need for an accessible supply of locally-sourced seafood. Sales went beyond the monthly market to four retail outlets and through online sales.
Just before the completion of the grant, the e-commerce website, www.LouisianaDirectSeafoodShop.com(link is external), was launched, selling to consumers across the U.S. Although COVID delayed many other plans in 2020, an update and relaunch of the e-commerce website in March 2020, while consumers were isolating at home, proved timely. “In just two months, we saw online sales increase by 1,400 percent!” says Verret.
The market’s popularity caught the attention of travel writers and was featured, more than once, in Southern Living, as well as Farm & Ranch Living and local publications. And it would appear to have gained a level of community confidence that supported the renewal of a millage tax that funds Port investments as it did in the purchasing of a needed PA system and increasing the covered roof of the market’s pavilion to 14,000 square feet.
Last October, the Delcambre Market was awarded another FMPP grant and a Local Food Promotion Program Grant (LFPP) – the only market in Louisiana to receive grants from both programs. The objective in the FMPP grant will feature a health and wellness initiative and a new podcast. The LFPP grant will study the feasibility of a seafood hub that will feature a commercial kitchen, storage, a retail space, and transportation capabilities for local fishermen and farmers.
“We are very proud of how far the market has come and what business it’s brought to local fishermen and producers, as well as to Delcambre’s economy,” says Verret. “The market has grown in size, popularity, and visibility and we want to leverage that this year to promote health and wellness in the community and expand the market to meet the growing demand.”
To read Delcambre’s Seeds of Success story and others, go to https://arcg.is/11qjKL(link is external).
Originally published in Kaplan Herald, 3/30/21