With the incredibly popular Shreveport Farmers’ Market returning for 2013 this Saturday, June 1, there’s no better time to celebrate the benefits of eating local. One local program that is teaching young people to grow, harvest and market their own produce is the Valencia Youth Garden and Urban Farm, a collaborative partnership between LSU AgCenter, Shreveport Public Assembly and Recreation (SPAR), and the Red River Coalition of Community Gardeners (RRCCG). Through the Valencia Youth Garden, young people in Shreveport’s Stoner Hill neighborhood are growing and marketing fruits and vegetables which are used in some of Shreveport-Bossier’s most popular restaurants, including Wine Country Bistro and Twine. The students also manage their own neighborhood farmers’ market, conduct surveys of their customers and participate in healthy cooking demonstrations.
“Valencia has become a model for other programs around the country,” said Dr. Grace Peterson, area nutrition agent for LSU AgCenter. “I think what we have going here is a very good approach to growing healthy, regional food systems. We’re really on the cutting edge.”
On Monday, June 3 and Monday, June 10, Wine Country Bistro will donate 15% of the restaurant’s lunch and dinner sales to the Valencia Youth Garden. Last year, these funds went directly into the hands of the young farmers who worked the Valencia garden. Wine Country Bistro has been buying produce from the Valencia Youth Garden for nearly three years, including the collard greens that accompany some popular dishes on the restaurant’s dinner menu. This fundraiser is being organized and promoted by Slow Food North Louisiana, the Shreveport-Bossier region’s local chapter of Slow Food International.
Reservations are usually not required on Monday nights, but if you’d like to play it safe, the restaurant can be reached at (318) 629-9463. Wine Country Bistro is located at 4801 Line Avenue in Shreveport.
If you have a few minutes to spare, take a guided tour of the Valencia Youth Garden, hosted by the gardeners themselves, via Youtube: